20-Year-Old ADA Gets Facelift

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio-Financial institutions nationwide are in the middle of a 12-month window for complying with changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Dean Stewart, senior director of advanced solution product management at Diebold, called that one of the most important compliance issues facing CUs today.

Last year, he explained, the government amended the 20-year-old ADA and issued a number of new guidelines that affect FIs. He noted that the regs with the greatest impact on CUs (and all FIs) will be those affecting ATM fleets: Chiefly, making sure that ATMs have voice guidance for the visually impaired; that Braille signage is present at or very near the machine; and making sure that disabled individuals have the same level of privacy as all other users.

"This needs to be acknowledged within the credit union, and then somebody needs to have that as an assignment; to come back with a plan for ADA compliance," said Stewart. Yet he also pointed out that thousands of institutions will be affected by these new regs, and not all FIs have the resources necessary to quickly carry out such changes. So while he by no means advocated delaying implementation, he hoped that regulators would "be a bit more generous in their latitude" and "have a bit more grace...as far as what happens after March 16" of next year.

He stressed, however, that excessive delays or non-compliance with new ADA regs could have dire consequences. "I don't think any CEO wants to be in the paper as the defendant in a discrimination lawsuit," said Stewart. "That alone should be enough to think about making strides."

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