Passing the Secondary Entrance Examination and attaining eight subjects at last year’s CSEC examinations show just how determined Ryan Khamran is to not allow his visual disability to prevent him from achieving his goals.
This is why it is so difficult for him to accept that a commercial bank has refused to issue a debit card to him because he is blind.
In an interview with Guardian Media, the 20-year-old former Debe Secondary School student said he knows his limitations and using a debit card is not one of them.
Khamran said, “The thing is, I am someone, first of all, to acknowledge when something is not possible to be done. Some things are beyond me but this wasn’t. I use these things by touch all the time. I use my laptop in school. It’s (ATM keypad) is no different to that, for me to memorise the keyboard board. First of all, I was very disappointed that an institution like this would have wrong information, and second of all to be stopped from something I could do on the wrong basis is very frustrating.”
Relating his experience, Khamran said he got an appointment to open a bank account with FCB’s High Street, San Fernando branch on October 27, last year.
Initially, the bank told him that he would only be able to open a joint bank account, but he was then allowed to open an account on his own.
He said, “When we got around to the bank card they told me that the bank does not have any policy to issue it to blind people because it could be a risk to the bank. I told them I think I could have a bank card but they kept saying that blind people can’t use the fast service machine on their own. And they were saying that since I can’t do that, it would be contradicting the contract that I sign that nobody else can know your pin.”
However, he said that was not true because a blind person could use the keypad by touch.
Khamran, who was accompanied by his father, said he kept insisting that he could use it, and eventually the manager told him that they would have to send it to the legal department.
He said a few days later his request was forwarded to the card centre. Eventually, he said in December the bank contacted him and told him his request was rejected.
Two weeks later, he went to the bank to change his cheques and a teller told him that his request was approved.
When he informed her that someone from the bank told him his request was rejected, she told him she would have to investigate and get back to him. He never heard from her again.
A few days ago, he was officially informed that the bank would not be issuing him a bank card.
However, his friend Rishi Mack, who is also blind, told Guardian Media that about three years ago he was issued a debit card from FCB’s Port-of-Spain branch.
Khamran said, “Although I could go to another bank I am determined to fix this problem because other people might encounter this problem and when you allow misinformation to spread it becomes even worse so that’s why I was determined to pursue this with this bank and get this situation highlighted.”
Khamran, who diagnosed with glaucoma at age five, said a bank card would make his financial transactions a lot easier.
He would also feel safer since he would not have to move around with large sums of cash.
His father Dianand Khamran said the situation was unacceptable.
“Technology is here and it should be there for everybody, especially now more than ever. It is not fair to him that he is excluded from having a bank card because he is blind,” he said.
Last year, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal presented him with a gift at his Friendship Village, San Fernando home after he passed eight CSEC subjects—Mathematics, English, Literature, Social Studies, Caribbean History, Principles of Business, Office Administration and Integrated Science.
When contacted, FCB’s Head of Brand and Marketing, Larry Olton, said the bank could not comment on the matter because of their fiduciary duty of confidentiality to the customer.
He said, “As such, I am not in a position to confirm or otherwise respond to this assertion from the person cited above.”
He said the bank would respond directly to any of its customers who had a service request, in keeping with the policies and practices of the bank.