The Visual Assistance Card

Imagine being blind for a minute, and you have to go to the store to pick up a few things. You have everything in your basket ready to be checked out and since you have no cash in your pocket, you whip out the old trustworthy debit card. However, since debit/credit card machines have pretty much gone all digital, you will have to trust the clerk to help you with entering your private information. Yeah, pretty scary huh? Kyle Lechtenberg, an Industrial Design grad from Auburn University – WAR EAGLE! – placed himself in the shoes of the visually impaired and has created the Visual Assistance Card. The card lays on top of the debit/credit card reader and through the use of Braille imprinted on the card, the user is able to keep their personal information private thus increasing their independence while shopping in any store. The Visual Assistance Card is light weight and can be easily stored out of the way until future use. Definitely designed for usability – a must in today’s world.

Designer: Kyle Lechtenberg


  • Matt says:

    I like this idea. Coming from the UK, our chip and pin system works differently, however it seems as if this would be easily adapted. The only thing I would say is that there is probably something similar already available.

  • IGreenSpot says:

    wow…..this is really cool, smart idea, why we never think about this before ? I believe the minority deserve more attention to help them live their live easier by creating such a great device for them to use, like this concept.

  • Brian says:

    Why we never thought of this before is the simple fact that most blind people do not know how to read braille. They rely on a variety of spoken word applications and simple details like nubs molded into the buttons that help locate the user to the geometry of the interface – take a look at your keyboard at the F & J or D & K and you will find a little nub there specifically for sight impaired.

  • zippyflounder says:

    How does it improve security, somebody could be looking over their sholder and note their pin number with out their knowlage.

  • Vincent says:

    A lot of these places have a tactile keypad, making such a product as a card to guide a blind person around on a touch screen obsolete.

    What the card doesn’t account for, is changes in the program on the pin pad.
    An example is if they decide to ask for your “Club card”. There isn’t much of a way to get around doing that.

  • Kyle Lechtenberg says:

    Ok, as the designer I thought I would field a few questions and concerns you posted about this.

    First, the concern that not every blind person knows Braille. This is very true, for that reason I also included standard numbers that were raised this helps those who don’t know braille determine which buttons to push.

    Second the issue of people looking over your shoulder to know which buttons were pushed. This would be much harder than you think. The entire visual assistance card is white and in store environment the numbers are almost impossible to see the only reason you see them in the images is due to heavy photoshop work and using light at an extreme angle to accentuate shadows.

    The third issue brought up incomparability with the software. This is the problem I will admit I don’t have a perfect solution for, but I have thought of how to alleviate it. The Visual Assistance Card is primarily designed to be cheap and would most likely be custom ordered by a corporation for their specific debit card machines. This would allow them to be designed around their screen size and software configuration. But you are right that it is not a universal fix. It goes on after the cashier assists the visually impaired person through all the steps and it is time to input their secure PIN number. It unfortunately does not allow a visually impaired person to navigate the process like a unimpaired person would but that is not the intent. It is designed as a cheap way for them to input their private information at a price point for the store that would be feasible and therefore is more likely to be implemented.

    • Melody Tan says:

      Hi Kyle,

      Think this an interesting design and it’s commendable that designers put themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate. I am from a design magazine in Singapore and am writing about such design. Would be very interested in asking you a few questions! It’ll be great if you could email me back at [email protected]. Looking forward to your reply asap. Thanks!

  • P says:

    Then, it is open.

  • Michman says:

    Hi Kyle

    I think it’s a great idea for this.

    One comment on the issue that was raised before would be to have a setting on the actual machine itself to alleviate this issue, setting it to a non advertised setting so it does not interfere with the touch pad. Or possible it could change to match a touch pad that includes such option on one page.

    Either way I think this is a good option that banking and other such companies would be able to implement relatively easily.

  • paok says:

    that is industrial design!!!

  • Dalton says:

    Shiver me timbers, them’s some great infromaiton.

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