New ATM Accessibility Standards Set

On Friday, July 23, 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed additional ADA (American Disabilities Act) regulations, which included requirement for ATMs.

According to the DOJ, the final rules are legally enforceable and binding six months after the date they were published in the Federal Register, which was September 15, 2010, making the compliance date March 15, 2011.

The DOJ did provide for a safe harbor clause, stating that compliance is not required for new construction and alterations until March 15, 2012, 18 months after the date of publication, if implementing the upgrades would result in an undue financial burden. During the 18 month period, the DOJ offers financial institutions the choice to comply with either the updated 2010 regulations or the 1991 or 2004 regulations. However, the ADA requires each institution to implement a compliance plan by the effective date of the rule, which is March 15, 2011.

In conjunction with ATM vendor-partner Diebold, the following items are outlined to guide credit unions in understanding how the new rule affects ATMs. The focus of the DOJ’s new ruling is on the accessibility of the input and output controls at the ATM, including:

  • Height and reach—To ensure consumers can easily access input controls, an ATM’s reach must equal 48 inches;
  • Voice guidance—All ATMs must be speech enabled to service visually impaired consumers. Since speech output is considered by the ADA to be an auxiliary aid or service, implementation is required unless doing so would create an undue burden or expense;
  • Input device—Input device controls must be tactually discernible, which means key surfaces must be raised above surrounding surfaces to serve visually impaired consumers;
  • Numeric keypads—The ATM’s keypad must be arranged in a twelve-key ascending layout, such as telephone keys, or descending, such as a computer number pad layout;
  • Function keys—Function keys must be designed to contrast visually from their background surfaces;
  • Display screen—For visibility from a point located 40 inches above the center of the floor in front of the ATM, characters on the screen must be in sans serif font, a minimum of 3/16 inch high, and contrast with their background; and
  • Braille instructions—Braille instructions to initiate the voice guidance feature must also be provided.

Remember that existing ATMs need only be modified to comply with the physical access requirements if they did not comply with the 1991 ADA Standards, and if it is readily achievable to do so. Any ATMs that are newly installed or altered on or after March 15, 2012, will be required to comply with the 2010 accessibility standards.

Credit unions should contact their ATM service providers to determine what changes will need to be made to their ATMs.


Member Access Pacific, in cooperation with Visa, ATM vendors, and industry associations, continually monitors new federal and state requirements that may affect our client credit unions. While MAP and its partners are not offering legal advice, we have compiled the following information to assist clients in preparing and understanding potential compliance issues. We encourage you to consult with your own legal counsel to review the new regulations and make your own determination regarding compliance dates or requirements.


Posted in Compliance News, NWCUA.