Bank of America First Talking ATM and Web Press Release

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This document announces the first web accessibility agreement in the United States. Bank of America signed the agreement with the California Council of the Blind and other California blind activists. Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian were the lawyers. No lawsuit was filed. Instead, a collaborative process known as Structured Negotiations was used. The Bank agreed to install Talking ATMs, give blind people braille bank statements, and make its website accessible. The bank will also give Large Print and audio versions of print information. The bank also agreed to give blind people headphones for the Talking ATMs. Bank of America was the first organization in the country to legally agree to improve its website for blind customers. It was also the first bank to agree to so many Talking ATMs.

The press release posted here was issued as a result of a Settlement Agreement negotiated by Lainey Feingold and co-counsel Linda Dardarian using Structured Negotiation. The agreement was the first in the United States to address a national Talking ATMs plan, and the first to include a web accessibility obligation. Read the full Bank of America Settlement Agreement.

California, Florida to get First Bank of America Talking ATMs

Largest U.S. Bank to Install more than 2,500

Bank of America Talking ATM Sign San Francisco, CA (March 15, 2000) — Bank of America today announces a plan to install more than 2,500 talking ATMs in Florida and California — its largest retail markets. The plan, reached in conjunction with the California Council of the Blind and several blind individuals, schedules installations of the talking ATMs over the next three years. Additional plans to install the ATMs in other states where Bank of America operates will be worked out early next year.

Bank of America will use talking ATMs that have been developed by NCR Corporation and Diebold Corporation, the largest ATM vendors in the U.S. The talking ATMs will provide audible instructions to persons who cannot view information on an ATM screen. These machines will make it easier for blind users to withdraw cash, deposit money and perform other transactions. The ATMs will have audio jacks that will deliver voice information privately to protect the security of blind and low-vision users.

“We’re thrilled with the collaborative effort with Bank of America and other blind individuals,” said Catherine Skivers, president of the California Council of the Blind, an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind with 46 chapters throughout California. “We hope that every financial institution in the country will follow the Bank of America lead.”

Berkeley disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold, Linda Dardarian of the Oakland civil rights firm of Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, and the Berkeley – based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, represented the California Council in the discussions regarding talking ATMs.

According to Feingold and Dardarian, “Bank of America deserves tremendous praise for their commitment to the blind community demonstrated by today’s announcement.”

“We are pleased to announce the largest planned installation of talking ATMs by any financial institution, starting in two of our largest retail markets,” said Bill Raymond, manager, ATM Channel Strategies and Development. “We have been working with ATM manufacturers for several years on the development of this technology, and we will underscore this announcement with other initiatives to improve sight-impaired access to Bank of America.”

Bank of America will also make information that is typically provided in written format, such as monthly account statements and product materials, available in alternative formats to persons with vision impairments. It will also take steps to ensure that its Web site and online banking services are accessible to blind persons whose home computers use screen readers to audibly read text on a computer screen.

Created in 1998 by the merger between NationsBank and Bank of America Corporation, Bank of America is the country’s first coast-to-coast nationwide bank. With 14,000 ATMs operated under the Bank of America and NationsBank brands, Bank of America operates the largest proprietary ATM network in the U.S.

Bank of America, with $633 billion in assets, is the largest bank in the United States. It has full-service operations in 21 states and the District of Columbia and provides financial products and services to 30 million households and two million businesses, as well as providing international corporate financial services for business transactions in 190 countries.


For California Council of the Blind:
Lainey Feingold
[phone and email omitted]

Leni Doyle, Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller
[phone and email omitted]

For Bank of America:
Ann DeFabio
[phone and email omitted]