by Valerie Yingling
From the Editor: Valerie Yingling is our legal program coordinator, and she has been at this job for six years. No one can come away from the national convention without remembering the extension 2440 since this dedicated and highly effective staff member solicits lots of input on a variety of topics. It is always a pleasure to talk with her, and it is also a pleasure to read what she writes. Here it is:
This past September, Cardtronics received certification confirming that its ATM fleet was in compliance with the strict accessibility standards of the 2014 settlement agreement between the National Federation of the Blind, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Cardtronics. This is a noteworthy milestone, and one that nearly concludes years of legal action and the NFB demanding that Cardtronics ATMs be fully accessible to the blind.
It was in 2005 that NFB and the Commonwealth first brought action against Cardtronics, and in 2007 Cardtronics entered into a class-action settlement, agreeing to make nearly 30,000 ATMs accessible to the blind via voice guidance. This was a landmark agreement and one that helped set the standard for ATM accessibility nationwide. Unfortunately, Cardtronics was unsuccessful in implementing the agreement terms, a subsequent court-approved remediation plan, and an extension of terms to March 15, 2012, that included the court providing a Shakespearean warning to Cardtronics to beware the Ides of March.
In August 2012, after further nonconformance, NFB and the Commonwealth requested court-supervised monitoring and enforcement. The court appointed a special master, and Cardtronics established a Center of Excellence to steer its accessibility efforts and provide industry-leading voice-guided user experience for Cardtronics-supported ATMs. At long last, these interventions proved successful. ATM voice-guidance scripts were developed with the assistance of NFB member and accessibility expert Ron Gardner, and Cardtronics installed the accessible software and scripts across its ATM fleet, numbering then close to 100,000 ATMs.
Many of you were instrumental in the NFB’s 2017-2018 Cardtronics ATM testing program. Members tested six hundred ATMs nationwide to assess that each included Braille instructions and labels, that voice guidance began when a customer inserted a headset into the headphone jack, that the user could complete a balance inquiry and cash withdrawal and receive a transaction summary via voice guidance, and other critical features. This was not an easy testing program, and its success relied on the commitment of over two hundred testers.
The test results weren’t perfect. Cardtronics took reports of inaccessibility seriously and investigated all failed tests. Missing Braille and inoperable machines were addressed swiftly. Substantiated issues were not related to the voice-guidance scripts themselves. One recurring problem involved testers’ inability to sufficiently hear the voice guidance. We identified that if testers were using Apple headphones, they would likely need to insert the headphones only halfway into the headphone jack for best sound quality.
We are currently in Phase II of our settlement agreement with Cardtronics. Over the next seven quarters, Cardtronics is required to complete one full accessibility inspection cycle of its ATM fleet and provide quarterly reports to NFB and the Commonwealth.
Now that NFB has completed its ATM testing program and Cardtronics has received its certificate of conformance, there are specific troubleshooting and reporting actions that NFB members can take if they encounter an inaccessible ATM. We recommend the following for Cardtronics or otherwise-owned ATMs:
If you cannot hear the voice guidance, first remove and reinsert your headphones. Basic headphones will work best; headphones with microphones may not work. If you are using Apple headphones, they may need to be inserted only halfway for best sound quality.
If you experience difficulties with your PIN, card, or incorrect cash dispenses, you should contact your bank for resolution.
All other barriers can be directed to the ATM’s owner/servicer. All ATMs should have a number on them to call for mechanical difficulties, access, or suspicious activities. Unfortunately, the phone number might not be provided on the machine in Braille, and you may need to ask store personnel to identify the number.
Cardtronics ATM complaints can be directed to 800-786-9666; please keep in mind that not all ATMs are owned or serviced by Cardtronics.
As President Riccobono has stated, “We appreciate that the leadership team at Cardtronics recognizes that the blind deserve the same convenient access to cash and banking services that sighted people enjoy.” Indeed, full and equal access to financial information and resources is critical to our members living the lives they want. Accessible ATMs remain a matter of priority for the NFB. We are pleased that it is a priority for Cardtronics as well.
For additional information, or for copies of the settlement agreements and press releases, visit www.nfb.org/legal or contact Valerie Yingling, legal program coordinator, at [email protected] or 410-659-9314, extension 2440.