It was a huge step forward in treating Food and Nutrition Benefits recipients dignity when the “Food Stamp” program moved from actual stamps to electronic cards that look similar to debit cards. However, there is still more we can do.
For the state of North Carolina, there are three ways to receive the balance of one’s EBT card: on a purchase receipt, through the website or calling the 800-number. Many EBT recipients are without data or internet access. Therefore, each of these options come with accessibility problems.
By creating an interface that uses both the existing voice notification system for EBT and text messaging, we are able to better serve EBT recipients without needing to redesign the current system. Balance simply calls and goes through the phone tree of prompts for you, then listens to the message and sends you a transcription of the information. Simple, yet effective.
Balance uses existing phone interfaces to access balance information. When a user texts their EBT number, Balance initiates a phone call to the appropriate service center on their behalf, navigates through the phone tree, transcribes the response, and texts it back to the user. See the source code for the nitty gritty.