BANKS in Hongkong are refusing to open accounts for blind people and are denying them other services contrary to the advice of the Hongkong Association of Banks, a lobby group said. The chairman of the Hongkong Association of the Blind, Chong Chan-Yau, said some banks refused to deal with visually-impaired people. Others insisted they sign disclaimers against actions for damages. ''They treat [blind people] as a high risk,'' he said. Hongkong Association of Banks chairman Paul Selway-Swift said he would be surprised if banks were refusing to deal with blind people. Disclaimers were for banks to consider individually, he said. In a circular to members in January, the association said it was possible that, because of fraud or an ''honest mistake'', blind customers could sign instructions inconsistent with those they thought they were giving the bank. ''If a blind person is giving an instruction in writing to a bank, they are probably going to have to get someone else to write it for them,'' Mr Selway-Swift said. ''There is going to have to be total trust between the blind person and the other person, and I'm afraid that trust could be abused.'' The circular said, however, a disclaimer might be found by a court to be discriminatory and would therefore be invalid. ''Banks may therefore decide from a public relations point of view that such an indemnity should not be insisted upon.'' Mr Chong would not name banks that refused to deal with blind people but said they included foreign, Chinese and Hongkong institutions. Some of the most common complaints came from those who had been refused cheque accounts. ''They simply refuse [to allow] blind people to open cheque accounts,'' Mr Chong said. ''You have to be able to fill in a form in front of them to say that you understand a cheque and can sign it. ''We say you are not using this requirement against illiterates - a lot of rich people are illiterate.'' Mr Chong welcomed the association's circular but said: ''We are not pleased that it's not obligatory. The circular is a good step forward but the battle is not won and a lot of banks are still hesitant and need to be persuaded.'' Some banks refused to issue blind people with automatic teller machine cards in case they were watched, their pin numbers noted and their cards stolen. Lack of access to banks made daily life for blind people difficult, said Mr Chong. ''It's an injury to pride and dignity and it's an insult. ''The essential principle is they have to be responsible for their own finances.'' Banks in Canada, Britain and the United States catered for blind customers, even issuing statements and information leaflets in Braille.