SHARJAH, 17th September, 2023 (WAM) — Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) announced its success in adapting its mobile banking application with the screen reader service to serve people with visual disabilities as the first service of its kind in the United Arab Emirates.
This step came after the specialised technical departments at Sharjah Islamic Bank conducted a series of meetings, deliberations, and continuous communication with people with visual disabilities to find the best ways to allow them to obtain comprehensive and independent banking services.
Waleed AlAmoudi, Head of Digital Banking of Sharjah Islamic Bank, said: “The idea of providing new banking services to our brothers and sisters with visual disabilities was launched after a person with a visual disability contacted the bank to find a solution to the difficulty of using mobile applications that meet their banking needs, of balance inquiry, daily money transfers and other digital banking transactions.”
Waleed AlAmoudi added, “As part of SIB’s commitment to serve people with visual disabilities, the Digital Banking Department held multiple technical meetings and sought their opinions to help arrive at the best solutions that meet their needs. This communication resulted in the provision of a screen reader service for our fellow people with visual impairments in the SIB’s digital mobile application. We anticipate its success as it is the first of its kind in the UAE to address the needs of this important sector in society. SIB, in line with the directives of the wise leadership and government plans, continues to work on implementing the best policies and practices to empower people with disabilities and ensure their inclusion in decision-making within society, thereby ensuring equal opportunities.”
User testing with visually impaired individuals was conducted to ensure easy and secure use of the application
The Digital Banking Department at Sharjah Islamic Bank conducted numerous studies for the requirements of the new service and organized several pilot tests in cooperation with a group of people with visual disabilities. These experiments contributed to accelerating the required compatibility for the screen reader service, enabling the bank’s customers with disabilities to perform all their banking transactions through the SIB application on smartphones. The interface for banking services within the smartphone application can be easily navigated, ensuring privacy and security.
Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) expressed appreciation and praised this initiative, highlighting the fruitful cooperation with Sharjah Islamic Bank and its dedication to providing the best services to people with disabilities, including the success in adapting the screen reader service on its banking application via smartphones. Professor Dalia Abdel Moneim, a visual disability specialist at the city’s Early Intervention Center, emphasized the significance of the new screen reader service compatibility in enhancing the independence of people with visual disabilities and enabling them to complete their banking transactions independently. She explained that the (SCHS) places great importance on empowering people with disabilities across various domains, offering services such as early detection using the Spot Vision device to identify visual problems in children in nurseries and kindergartens.
The (SCHS) also provides individual training services to develop the skills of people with visual disabilities, classroom training services, and services to support the integration of students with visual disabilities into schools. Additionally, community awareness initiatives are undertaken to educate people about the challenges faced by individuals with visual disabilities and how to effectively engage with them.
Numerous people with visual disabilities, their families, and others expressed their appreciation for the bank’s efforts in providing continuous services to people with disabilities in general, and its ongoing leadership in introducing initiatives that facilitate various electronic and other banking transactions. These efforts reflect the support and encouragement provided by Sharjah Islamic Bank towards cultural practices that, in turn, demonstrate the level of digital and civilizational progress achieved by the UAE as a whole and the Emirate of Sharjah in particular.
It is noteworthy that Sharjah Islamic Bank has been a pioneer in providing cutting-edge quality banking services. In 2008, the SIB introduced the first ATM of its kind in the Middle East for wheelchair users with mobility disabilities at Al Thiqah Club for Disabled In 2012, the SIB launched the first ATM in the Middle East for people with visual disabilities at the Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired in Sharjah. In 2018, the SIB introduced the first ATM in the Middle East catering to wheelchair users with mobility disabilities as well as the visually impaired at the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. A similar initiative was launched in 2019 at the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs in Dubai.