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Consumer info - Frequently asked questions - Effect on disabled people

Top ten queries


How will chip and PIN affect people with disabilities?

I am disabled; will chip and PIN affect me?

Chip and PIN provides an additional option to cardholders who may currently have difficulty using signature.

It is expected that, on balance, chip and PIN will enable more disabled people to be able to use plastic cards than before and retail staff will be able to assist you through the process if you have any queries.

Research conducted by the Chip and PIN Programme with 350 disabled and older cardholders in February 2004 showed that many welcomed chip and PIN as an easier, more convenient and more secure means of paying than by signature. Most of the people interviewed (86%) were happy to use chip and PIN following a trial run.

However, anyone who has a disability and thinks they may have difficulty with chip and PIN (because of their impairment) should talk to their card issuing company who will discuss their options with them, which includes continuing to use cards with signatures or other arrangements which these customers currently have in place. You will not be required to provide medical evidence to support your request.

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I am blind or partially sighted, how will this affect me?

All PIN pads need to follow the international standards for terminal design. The vast majority will have tactile features including a raised dot on the 5 button. This layout will be familiar to most blind or partially sighted people and should therefore make it easier to use.

In addition, there are two accepted formats for the primary 'function' keys - the 'cancel', 'clear' and 'enter' keys which will be located either vertically to the right of or horizontally below the numeric keys. Where coloured, the 'cancel' key is red, the 'clear' key is yellow and the 'enter' key is green. Some PIN pads may have supplementary 'function' keys above the numeric keys, but these are not normally for cardholder use.

You are likely to come into contact with a variety of PIN pads wherever you pay by plastic. Some stores will have PIN pads attached to the till via a wire and you will hand your card to the member of staff to be read, whilst other stores will have PIN pads which contain integrated card readers, and you will put your card into the card reader yourself. Many PIN pads are designed to be picked up from their holders, to make it easier and more secure for you to enter your PIN. You may also come across PIN pads which have been built into the shop counter and in restaurants and bars the PIN pads are likely to be wireless so that you can pay whilst sitting at the table. Whatever the case staff should always be able to help you through the process and answer any queries.

You will need to enter the same PIN regardless of the design.

Please remember that no-one except you knows your PIN, and you should never disclose your PIN to anyone, including retail or bank staff. If you have handed over your card to a member of staff, try to remain aware of what is happening to your card. Ask the member of staff to explain the process they are carrying out and contact your card company if you are at all concerned.

Research with blind/visually impaired cardholders in February and September 2004 showed that the majority of those interviewed were happy to use chip and PIN having tried it and found it easier and quicker than signing.

However, anyone who has a disability and thinks they may have difficulty with chip and PIN (because of their impairment) should talk to their card issuing company who will discuss their options with them, which includes continuing to use cards with signatures or other arrangements which these customers currently have in place.

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Will all PIN pads be laid out the same way, so that people can use the pattern of keys pressed rather than reading the numbers?

All PIN pads need to follow the international standards for terminal design. The vast majority will have tactile features including a raised dot on the 5 button. This layout will be familiar to most blind or partially sighted people and should therefore make it easier to use.

In addition, there are two accepted formats for the primary 'function' keys - the 'cancel', 'clear' and 'enter' keys which will be located either vertically to the right of or horizontally below the numeric keys. Where coloured, the'cancel' key is red, the 'clear' key is yellow and the 'enter' key is green. Some PIN pads may have supplementary 'function' keys above the numeric keys, but these are not normally for cardholder use.

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I have trouble using my hands; how will chip and PIN affect me?

We know that some people may have difficulty with entering PINs, particularly those with conditions like arthritis or cerebral palsy. Anyone who has a disability and thinks they may have difficulty with chip and PIN (because of their impairment) should talk to their card issuing company who will discuss their options with them, which includes continuing to use cards with signatures or other arrangements which these customers currently have in place.

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I am a wheelchair user; how will chip and PIN affect me?

Many businesses will have a separate PIN pad attached to the till via a wire which allows a wheelchair user to pick up the PIN pad or remove it from its holder and use comfortably and safely.

However, anyone who has a disability and thinks they may have difficulty with chip and PIN (because of their impairment) should talk to their card issuing company who will discuss their options with them, which includes continuing to use cards with signatures or other arrangements which these customers currently have in place.

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I will, or may, have trouble remembering my PIN; how will chip and PIN affect me?

You can change your PIN to a four-digit number that is easier to remember at a cash point or by calling your card issuing company but make sure that it's a number that nobody else can guess.

We have also produced a guide which contains useful hints and tips for remembering PIN. Find out more:

Remembering your PIN number (PDF)

Anyone who has a disability and thinks they may have difficulty with chip and PIN (because of their impairment) should talk to their card issuing company who will discuss their options with them, which includes continuing to use cards with signatures or other arrangements which these customers currently have in place.

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