Setting up a new bank account is a rite of passage for all teenagers as they're hired in their first job or want to start saving money.
- A disability-friendly bank branch has opened in the Hunter region to create better access for all
- It features wide spaces, low counters, sound-proofing and adjustable lighting to reduce sensory overload
- People visiting the branch for the first time say it sets a good example for other businesses
But imagine the sensory overload that people with a disability might experience when entering a busy bank branch.
It can be overwhelming for anyone who's learning to independently manage their finances.
It's why Beyond Bank at Glendale has taken advice from the community to try to make visiting their premises easier and more enjoyable.
Designed with input from people with a disability and following a successful 18-month trial in Canberra, it's first disability-friendly bank in New South Wales.
When autistic teenagers Yasmin Hassen and Callum Unsted, both aged 14, saw the branch for the first time they were impressed.
"I have autism and I am deaf so it will help me because it's sound proof, so the sound will easily flow through," Yasmin said.
"Some of the computers actually have a thing in it that will connect to my hearing aids and actually help me to hear and understand more and learn more."
Callum thought it was a relaxing and peaceful place to be.
"I think this would be a great place to start a bank," he said.
"It'd be a great stepping stone for me becoming an adult, getting my first job and moving out."
Accessible to all
Some of the features include a wide, open entry and corridor, which is accommodating for people who use a wheelchair.
There's a waiting lounge where customers can wait for their appointments and make themselves a coffee or hot chocolate at the touch of an iPad.
The teller counters are lower to the ground, there's a contrasting colour scheme, alternative seating and adjustable lighting.
Lake Macquarie Councillor Dave Belcher was born with lumbosacral agenesis and uses a wheelchair.
He noticed the lowered heights of the counters, which makes him more comfortable and less intimidated because no one is looking down on him.
"I subscribe to what's called the social model of disability which says that me using a wheelchair does not make me disabled," he said.
"What's disabling is the fact that I can't get into businesses or my environment because of stairs or lack of accessible options.
"So places like this bank are a really good step forward in that direction."
The way forward
Kylie Daniels is a senior community development manager at Beyond Bank and said this will be the new design, look and feel for all of its branches moving forward.
"So Glendale came through and they were ready for a refit and so it was a natural progression to move it to an accessible branch model," she said.
"Beyond Bank is a customer-owned bank and because of that purpose we exist to support our communities and one of the main key points we believe is strengthening communities, making banking accessible for all.
"So for us it just made sense."