100 Words On: The Real Reason Why Drive-Up ATMs Have Braille Keypads

One of life’s greatest so-called mysteries is why American drive-up automated teller machine keypads have Braille on them. On the surface it seems to be a preposterous notion. After all, the logic goes, blind people can’t drive. But who says only a car’s driver can use the ATM? Passengers can easily operate ATMs from the back seat too — and with the aid of head phones, the blind can enjoy drive-up banking in complete privacy. That’s why federal law rightly mandates Braille on drive-up ATMs.

The bottom line: Before boldly dismissing any notion as folly, you might want to evaluate it from multiple perspectives.

Photo Credit: orionpozo


  1. 1


    What I want to know is the reason American ATMs are designed for a Ford 250 instead of a regular sedan. I have to either get out of my car completely or look like a dog hanging out the window to use one.

    • 8

      Len Penzo says

      So are PIN numbers. It’s due to an affliction known as “RAS syndrome” which, somewhat ironically, literally means “redundant acronym syndrome syndrome.” LOL

  2. 9

    Sabz says

    Citi Bank had a keypad that could be moved up or down depending on the size of the vehicle. My friend had a truck so he always moved it up to reach it. I hope they still have those. It would be handy for you two, Wojo & Paula.

  3. 12

    snoopyloopy says

    I can’t believe no one has seen (or if they have, they’ve been silent) the most obvious reason yet: manufacturing efficiency. I’m pretty sure it’s much easier for a company to crank out one set of keypads than it is to produce two. They leave it up to the buyer to decide if the ATM will be in the mall lobby, the bank lobby, or a driveway behind the bank.

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      Yes, I’ve heard that argument too. However, that was clearly not the motive because the banking industry fought against having Braille on drive-up ATMs.

  4. 14


    Len-you’re a hoot! I get an emormous kick & satisfaction, not to mention amusement reading your blog. Your out of the box sense of humor entertains me to no end. Thanks!

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