Initially, it’s helpful to introduce yourself to the bank manager so that he or she, along with the staff, can get to know you personally. You might also consider doing your banking at less busy times and avoid lunch hours or weekends.
Banking services that can be helpful for customers who are blind or have low vision include the following:
Raised-Line Checks, Large Print Checks, and Check Templates
Guideline raised-line checks are larger than standard checks, have raised lines and larger, bolder print, and include a larger check register. If you are interested in raised-line checks, your bank will charge you the price in effect for standard checks at the time of your order. There should be no additional charge for the raised line feature.
Large print checks can be requested through the manager or customer service representative of your bank. They are available through Deluxe Corporation. You must obtain your “routing transit number” from your bank or credit union before placing your order.
Check templates are designed with openings that accommodate any standard check, and are available in black plastic or aluminum. You can find check template guides, along with a variety of rigid and flexible signature guides in Sources of Products for Independent Living in the VisionAware Directory of Services.
Get to know your bank’s customer service representatives
Go directly to the customer service representative at the service desk. He or she can take care of your withdrawal or deposit, and you can organize and record your transactions while you’re waiting.
Identify and sort your money
Ask a friend or family member to accompany you to the bank and assist you with separating your money and placing the different denominations into separate pockets, separate identifiable envelopes, or an adaptive wallet.
A portable electronic talking money identifier is a device that verbally announces the denomination of all old and new United States bills (from $1 to $100); an enhanced version also vibrates for users who are deaf-blind.
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has developed a free downloadable application (app) to identify paper United States currency. The app is called EyeNote™, designed for the Apple iOS, which will scan a bank note and communicate its value back to the user. EyeNote™ uses image recognition technology to determine a note’s denomination. You can read more about the EyeNote™ at the EyeNote™ App Overview.
How can I tell how much money the bank teller has given me?
One solution is to ask the teller to hand your money to you in separate denominations (such as the $10.00 bills first, the $5.00 bills next, and so on). Take the time to place the bills in a secure place.
You can also ask for your paper money in all of the same denomination (no larger than $10.00 bills, for example).
Using Credit or Debit Cards
When using a credit card, the challenge for a person who is blind or has low vision is knowing where to sign the credit card slip:
Ask a family member, friend, or store clerk to make a sharp crease in the paper along the writing space. This will provide a tactile raised writing line to help guide your signature placement.
Place 2-3 layered “Post-it” notes along the writing line to make it easier to locate and feel. Write your name just above the “Post-its” and remove them when you are done.
Ask a family member, friend, or store clerk to place the upper edge of a credit card just below the writing line. This will provide a raised writing line to help guide your signature placement.
Use the index and middle fingers of your non-writing hand to form a “V.” Place your hand forming the “V” sideways on the paper so that your index finger is directly below the entire writing line. Sign your name above your index finger to help guide your signature placement.
Ask a family member or friend to cut a rectangular opening in either an expired credit or debit card, a facsimile credit card that is sent with card offers, or a piece of cardboard cut to the size of a credit card. The opening should be 1/2 inch by approximately three inches.
If you have low vision, ask a family member or friend to use a marker pen and darken the writing line for you. This will make the signature line easier for you to see.
If you use a debit card, request that the transaction go through as a credit instead of a debit. In this way, you can avoid giving your PIN number to a stranger.
Please note: Before you sign any important document, ask a trusted friend or family member to read it to you before you add your signature.
More Tips to Help Manage Your Credit and Debit Cards from Peer Advisor Mary Hiland
When I am in line to pay for an item, such as in a grocery store, I have the card inside my wallet or pocket, ready to produce, but never ahead of time. Holding it in my hand gives the people behind me a chance to read the number and use it themselves.
Always take your receipt and file or shred it when you get home. This might seem a bit over the top, but each morning, I call the customer service automated line to hear a list of my purchases and the amount and date. Twice, I have discovered that someone else had been using my card number and I was able to stop them immediately by catching the theft, if not the thief.
I also use two separate cards, one for automatic electronic charges and one for taking with me as I run around town making purchases. This way, if the one I keep in my purse is compromised, it doesn’t affect the one that is used for automatic charges, thus saving many phone calls to vendors who are not getting paid.
One more way to keep track of money takes a little time and effort, but it’s worth the trouble. I keep each receipt and mark it in braille, so when I get the bill, I’m not in shock.
Read more from Mary at the Visually Impaired: Now What? blog.