March 15, 2012, marks the deadline for financial institutions to ensure that automated teller machines (ATMs) are accessible to blind customers in accordance with 2010 updates to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards impose new requirements to ensure use of ATM machines by blind and visually impaired individuals. The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Final Rule sets out detailed standards for ATMs concerning physical access and communications, including:
While structural elements have been grandfathered by the DOJ under safe harbor provisions, auxiliary aids, including voice guidance and Braille instructions, are mandated for every machine, which may mean changes to software and hardware in existing machines is required.ATM owners that are non-compliant on March 15, could face fines. However, some operators of cash machines are facing unanticipated difficulties making the necessary changes. Backlog at major ATM manufacturers means that some banks simply can't meet the deadline despite their efforts. Financial institutions facing supplier delays should document their efforts to meet the deadline and consult with counsel about how to best deal with the challenges of meeting the 2010 standards.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal cites supplier delays and financial constraints as the top reasons many banks' ATMs won't be compliant by March 15. Financial institutions with older ATM equipment may be faced with the cost of replacing the machines or taking them out-of-service altogether.
For more information on the application of the 2010 standards to ATM machines, please contact one of the attorneys in our Banking & Financial Services Division.