When a group of Visions Federal Credit Union tellers received new name badges this fall, they were far different from previous iterations. When enabled, the devices provide inclusive financial access to members of the $5.8 billion asset credit union in Endicott, N.Y.
The wearable Badger smart device, developed by Satellite Displays Inc., provides real-time closed captions for conversations between members and tellers.
“Members who are hard of hearing or experiencing hearing loss should receive the same exceptional member service we offer to everyone,” says LaToya Pryce, Visions Federal culture and inclusion officer. “This technology could help us extend an equitable experience to all. It’s about accessibility. Badger is for people with hearing loss or impairments or who are in an environment where it's difficult to hear. Badger can assist with enhancing member engagement.”
Not wanting to make assumptions about members’ hearing, Visions Federal tellers know not to initiate use of the Badger. Instead, signs around the branch let members know the technology is available.
If a member asks a teller to turn the device on, the badge converts audio to text on the screen’s display. The real-time transcription allows members to read the conversation while speaking with tellers.
“We want to be available and ready to enable it for members, and we want them to be comfortable with it,” Pryce says, noting members can opt out of the device if they grow uncomfortable during the conversation.
The Badger device has been on Pryce’s radar since she met Satellite Displays co-founder/CEO Mike Williston at an accessibility and inclusion conference. The device immediately showed its practicality.
“When we were talking, the area started to get busy so I was having a hard time hearing him, and him hearing me,” Pryce says. “He said, ‘Let me turn on the Badger,’ and it went so much better.”
They began talking about how the technology could benefit Visions Federal’s employees and members. Pryce immediately saw the role Badger could play in the credit union’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts.
“It’s about giving people equitable access to opportunities,” she says. “This device supports Visions’ commitment to fostering environments that promote a sense of belonging and inclusion. At Visions, all are seen, all are heard, and all are welcome.”
The devices also fit the credit union’s security protocols. Pryce says people using Badger don’t have to raise their voices to communicate sensitive financial information. Furthermore, the device doesn’t store information.
If the initial pilot goes well, Visions Federal may adopt Badger’s real-time translation services.
“As much as we have bilingual staff, we don’t have every language covered in each of our branches,” Pryce says. “We're hoping to test that functionality down the road. Just imagine eliminating all language barriers from branch services. That’s the direction we’re going.”