New ATM Accessibility Standards

March 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

Are your ATMs ADA compliant?  The United States Department of Justice recently issued new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) relating to ATM accessibility. The new regulations became effective on March 15, 2011, but compliance with the new regulations will be phased into effect over the next 12 months. Your financial institution should be familiar with the new regulations to determine whether you need to take action to update your ATMs. 

What do the new regulations require?

The new regulations require voice guidance capabilities for the visually-impaired and physical accessibility requirements for all disabled users. The physical accessibility standards include height and reach requirements, display screen visibility requirements, function keys must contrast visually, Braille instructions to initiate voice guidance feature, and input controls must be discernable by touch. Depending on your particular machine, the required changes may be as simple as a software update, or as extensive as a total machine replacement.

Who’s covered by the regulation?

Under the ADA, “covered entities” include places of public accommodation or commercial facilities such as financial institutions, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores, retail stores, etc.

Timeframe for compliance.

What is required as of March 15, 2011?

As of March 15, 2011, all existing ATMs should comply with the 1991 regulations and be equipped with a voice guidance system for visually-impaired users unless compliance creates an “undue burden” on the financial institution. Proving an “undue burden” is subjective and determined on a case-by-case basis. The factors include the overall resources of the financial institution or the institution’s holding company, (ii) the cost of upgrades, and (iii) availability of alternatives to serve the disabled. Additionally, ATMs need only comply with the physical access requirements if they did not comply with the 1991 Standards, and if it is readily achievable to do so. “Readily achievable” means easily accomplishable with little expense or effort. Finally, any newly-installed ATMs must at least comply with the 1991 regulations and be equipped with voice guidance capabilities. Moreover, as of March 15, 2011, the ADA requires that all covered entities institute a compliance plan for eventually achieving ATM accessibility as required under the new regulations.

What is required between March 15, 2011 and March 15, 2012?

For existing ATMs that comply with the 1991 regulations and have voice guidance capabilities, no further compliance is necessary unless an alteration is made to the machine. When an alteration is made, the alteration must comply with the 2010 regulations. “Alternations” include renovations, rehabilitation, and reconstruction but do not include normal maintenance. All new ATM installations have the option of complying with the new 2010 regulations or the 1991 regulations plus the voice guidance features.

What is required after March 15, 2012?

After this date, all newly-installed ATMs must comply with the new 2010 regulations. All existing ATMs that comply with the 1991 regulations and have voice guidance capabilities require no further compliance until the machine is altered or replaced. When the machine is altered or replaced, the alteration or replacement must comply with the 2010 regulations.

What should I do?

• Contact your compliance officer/legal counsel to assist in the interpretation of the new regulations and to help assess whether your ATMs are compliant with the new regulations.

• Contact your ATM vendor to determine whether your ATMs need an upgrade and the cost of such upgrade.

• Using the information from your vendor, you should establish and institute a compliance plan for achieving ATM accessibility under the 2010 Standards.

Click here to view a full text of the new regulations.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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