December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This is a good opportunity to highlight Santander Bank Polska’s Barrier-Free Banking Programme. Launched back in 2010, it helps customers with special needs access bank services. So far, the Programme has led to the introduction of solutions such as barrier-free branches, remote video service provided in the Polish Sign Language, and talking ATMs, which already account for almost 90% of the bank’s entire network.

Warsaw, 03 Dec 2020
According to official statistics, Poland is home to around 4.7 million people with disabilities [1]. However, their actual number might be as high as 7 million (for the entire European Union, the figure is around 80 million) [2]. In 1992, the United Nations established December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. 

More and more companies and sectors strive to make their products and services more accessible to people with disabilities. Among those businesses is Santander Bank Polska, which has been pursuing its Barrier-Free Banking Programme since 2010. The Programme helps our bank to systematically make the access to our services easier for customers with disabilities, both at branches and via remote channels. The solutions we have implemented so far include: adapting our branches in terms of accessible design and special equipment; increasing the digital accessibility of our remote channels; providing remote video service in the Polish Sign Language; and introducing talking ATMs. 

Talking ATMs

To ensure that all our customers have access to financial services, Santander Bank Polska has formed a network of talking ATMs. They are adjusted to the needs of blind and visually impaired people. Users have only to plug their earphones to the device to hear messages in Polish that will guide them step by step through withdrawing cash, changing the PIN or activating their card. Those processes are navigated with the use of the ATM’s keypad, without the need to reach for the buttons placed around the screen. Last year, our bank has made it possible to turn off the screen if the customer is using earphones. This option improves the comfort and security of transactions made by blind people. Users can also switch the screen to the high contrast mode, in which yellow text is displayed on a black background without any graphics. Currently, our network includes over 1,450 talking devices, which is almost 90% of all ATMs of our bank. Talking ATMs can be recognised by an earphone socket on the right below the screen and by a high-contrast sticker that uses Braille to communicate the device accessibility.

Remote video service in the Polish Sign Language 

Offered by Santander Bank Polska since 2014, a video call to an online advisor using the Polish Sign Language is another important solution our bank has introduced to meet the needs of hearing-impaired customers. The video call is available at all branches and via online channels (our internet and mobile banking). To make the call, the customer needs only to go to the “Contact” tab in the Santander mobile app or to the “Help and contact” tab on our bank’s website. During the call, Santander Bank Polska advisors give customers information about their products and hints on how to use electronic banking. The customers can also cancel their cards, learn about other products and services offered by Santander Bank Polska, undergo a repayment capacity assessment or file applications.

Differently abled at work

In addition to improving access to financial services, Santander Bank Polska takes care of the needs of people with disabilities within the institution. Our bank has committed to creating a diverse and inclusive working environment by preparing the organisation to hire people with different abilities. These activities are carried out as part of the “Diffabled” project. Their aim is to raise awareness of the rights and needs of people with disabilities, overcome any potential barriers against hiring such people, and create conditions for sharing information about disabilities with the employer. 

Thanks to the Barrier-Free Banking Programme (run in cooperation with foundations helping people with disabilities) and the Diffabled intiative, Santander Bank Polska is able to effectively promote social and economic inclusion. By making financial services more accessible, our bank helps people with disabilities overcome exclusion in this area.

For more information about the Barrier-Free Banking Programme, please visit our site: