Do you use an ATM? Ever think about how you'd use it if you couldn't see the control buttons? ATMs have become an indispensable feature of modern life. Unfortunately, about 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired can't use this convenience because more than half of our nation's ATMs (approx. 409,000) don't yet comply with new accessibility rules that were part of the 2010 update to the ADA.
These rules took effect March 15, 2012.
As of March 15, ATMs should be equipped with speech-enabled technology, headset jacks and other items so that customers who are visually impaired can use the machines without assistance. You certainly don't want to give strangers your PIN.
Waiting until the last minute to upgrade machines has caused delays. At the very least, ATM operators should at least, have a plan in place to do so.
Under a federal court order last December,, Cardtronics Inc., a big ATM operator, will face sanctions of $50 a month for each ATM that remains inaccessible after today.
Several banks aren't completely ignoring the rules. For example:
- NCR Corp., one of the biggest makers of ATMs for banks, expects 50% to 60% of its customers to meet the deadline.
- Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. reportedly comply with the new regulations because they are continually refreshing their fleets of machines.
- M&T Bank Corp., of Buffalo, N.Y., expects "the majority" of its 2,000 ATMs to comply by the deadline, a spokesman said.
Older ATMs operated by regional banks, community institutions and credit unions, along with the cash machines in bars, restaurants and convenience stores that often are owned by firms other than banks, may not have done anything.
Next time you use your ATM or a cash machine, take a moment & notice if it's been upgraded. If not, let your bank or manager know about it. One day, when you least expect it, you may really appreciate ability to use an ATM by yourself during an emergency.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.