Epilepsy fears over bank’s flashing lights

144416a' 'Barclays Bank in Scarborough'Picture by Neil Silk'30/10/14
144416a' 'Barclays Bank in Scarborough'Picture by Neil Silk'30/10/14

A Scarborough woman has raised concerns that flashing blue lights on cash machines in Barclays bank could cause someone with epilepsy to suffer a seizure.

Tracey Vasey, chairman of the Scarborough branch of Epilepsy Action, says that the lights at the St Nicholas Street branch pose a real threat and something needs to be done.

She explained: “The branch has been modernised inside and on three of the cash machines there are blue flashing lights, which are bright and flashing constantly.

“I did go in and explain the situation to them and we had a meeting, where I explained to them how dangerous it could be.”

Mrs Vasey, who suffers from epilepsy herself, was also concerned when she was told by a member of staff that they were not first aid trained, but would ring an ambulance if they saw someone having a seizure.

She added: “If someone was photosensitive, it could easily trigger a seizure. I understand that blue is Barclays’ colour, but it’s the worst colour it could be for epilepsy.

“Also, the lights are not flashing in sync with each other, which makes it even worse.”

Mrs Vasey said she was told by staff at the branch that the lights on the machines are there to help visually impaired people.

A spokeswoman from Barclays said: “Following feedback from customers we have been reviewing the lighting on our assisted service counters and liaising with external experts to find a suitable solution.

“We are now able to confirm that we will be phasing in changes to the devices in early 2015, which will reduce the frequency of the flashing lights.

“Going forward we will continue to work with relevant experts, including the Epilepsy Society, to respond and act on feedback to ensure our counter devices are accessible as possible.”

Epilepsy can affect anyone, at any age and from any walk of life. In the UK, 600,000 or one in every 103 people has epilepsy.

There are around 40 different types of seizure and a person may have more than one type.

Only 52 per cent of people with epilepsy in the UK are seizure-free. It is estimated that 70 per cent could be seizure free with the right treatment.

Around five people in every 100 will have an epileptic seizure at some time in their life.