The BCRA and the ANDIS have reviewed regulations to enhance access to the financial system by users with disabilities
The BCRA's regulatory framework was expanded in the benefit of users with disabilities. The BCRA made some regulatory changes, whereby financial institutions must ensure that disabled users have full access, thus preventing any sort of discrimination.
The BCRA and the National Agency on Disability’s (Agencia Nacional de Discapacidad, ANDIS) joint work seeks to reinforce the existing measures and identify emerging needs. The president of the BCRA, Miguel Pesce, and the Executive Director of the ANDIS, Fernando Galarraga, signed a cooperation agreement last September.
BCRA’s Communication A 7517 establishes the following obligations for financial institutions:
Accessibility of Digital Financial Services
- Online and mobile banking platforms must have any necessary applications—such as text-to-speech software—to let visually-impaired users understand the content posted.
- The images of communications, notices and advertisements—posted by financial institutions, either directly or through a third party— must be described in words.
- Decision 6/19 of the National Office of Information Technology and related regulations—Annexes I and II—on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and Conformance Criteria must be followed so that websites, including online banking sites, streamline disabled users' accessibility.
Argentine Sign Language
- Customer service staff must be trained in disability awareness and in the Argentine sign language to ensure equal access by and respectful treatment towards hearing-impaired and speech-impaired users.
- In-person services at bank branches must be rendered by trained staff and/or through an Argentine sign language interpreter (through video calls) taking into account the location and the area of influence to ensure the greatest coverage.
Other Measures for Protecting People with Disabilities
Apart from these recently-adopted measures, the “Financial Consumer Protection” regulations provide for the following:
- Physically-impaired users must get priority at branches, thus exempting them from queuing. In the event they have to wait to be called, appropriate seats must be offered.
- The regulation on “Financial Services during the Health Emergency established by Executive Order 260/2020 COVID-19” gives physically-impaired users priority for in-person services, no prior appointment being required.
- Automated teller machines (ATMs) for visually-impaired users must be fitted with text-to-speech systems, headphones, a braille or standard embossed keypad, and an audio alert mechanism in case a user forgets to remove their card or withdraw cash. At least 10% of a financial institution’s ATMs must be fitted this way.
Account Agreements and Statements in Braille
- Users must be given the option to receive any documentation (such as terms and conditions, and account statements) related to the products they may purchase in braille. No extra fees or charges may be imposed for these services.
- Branches' and ATMs' facilities must be accessible. This means that there should be no steps, uneven floor surfaces or obstacles that may be in the way. Besides, they should have ramps, ample space between counters, and anything that may make it easier to move around.
The renewal of any equipment and facilities must meet the needs of users with disabilities.
January 28, 2023