Fleet Bank Second Talking ATM and accessible web site press release

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This document is a press release announcing improvements to Fleet Bank’s Talking ATMs. Fleet signed an agreement with the Bay State Council of the Blind and other Massachusetts advocates. Lainey Feingold and Stan Eichner of the Disability Law Center in Boston, Massachusetts were the lawyers. No lawsuit was filed. Instead, a formal process known as Structured Negotiations was used. Bank of America bought Fleet Bank. Fleet’s press release also announces that the bank will give blind people braille bank statements, and make its website accessible. Fleet Bank installed the first Talking ATMs in Massachusetts. [back to Fleet Talking ATM Press Release ]

The press release posted below was the second release issued by Fleet Bank about its Talking ATMs. Read the first Fleet Bank Talking ATM press release. This release announced new Talking ATM features as well as the availability of Braille, Large Print and audio information and on-line accessibility at fleet.com. The releases were the result of two agreements that Fleet signed with Bay State Council of the Blind and others using the Structured Negotiations process. Fleet was subsequently purchased by Bank of America, which had also participated in Structured Negotiations to improve accessibilty of its services. You can find Bank of America accessibility press releases here. You can also find Bank of America accessibility agreements here.

Simplified Summary of this Document

Fleet Enhances Voice Guidance ATMs For the Visually Impaired

Boston, MA (March 17, 2003) — FleetBoston announced today that several enhancements have been made to Fleet’s Voice Guidance ATMs, popularly referred to as “Talking ATMs.” Introduced in February of 2001, Talking ATMs allow the blind and visually impaired to make withdrawals and deposits, make transfers/payments to linked accounts, or obtain balance information using standard earphones plugged into a private audio jack at the ATM.

The new features, using the same audio system, will allow customers to set or change their PIN, set or change their Fleet Cash amount (pre-set, preferred withdrawal amount), purchase stamps, submit payment envelopes (e.g. Fleet loan payments), and print mini-statements. “Fleet has put a lot of time, effort, and resources into improving the customer experience, and we think our visually impaired customers should benefit from that same gold service standard,” said Brad Warner, executive vice president of Consumer and Small Business Services.

As of March 1, 2003, Fleet had 1,221 Talking ATMs throughout the eight states in its Northeast franchise, with plans to add nearly 200 more Talking ATMs by the end of the year. Customers can locate a Fleet Talking ATM by calling 1-800-841-4000 or by logging on to www.fleet.com and using the ATM locator. Customers who do not have earphones can obtain free ones at any Fleet branch with a Talking ATM or by calling the 800 number above. Just as non-Fleet customers can use Fleet ATMs for withdrawals, any of the visually impaired public can make use of Fleet Talking ATMs. (Note for non-customers: as with any non-customer using a Fleet ATM, there would be an ATM surcharge.)

In addition to Talking ATMs, Fleet offers its visually impaired customers checking and savings statements in their choice of large print, Braille, audiocassette, or computer disk, and Personal Deposit Account Agreements, Fee Schedules and Banking Brochures are available in these media as well. For customers using Fleet HomeLink Online Banking and Bill Payment, the Accessibility page of www.fleet.com offers tips for using online banking with screen reader technology. In addition, upon request, Fleet will waive the monthly Bill Payment fee for visually impaired and other disabled customers.

It is estimated that over one million Americans are legally blind and another 12 million Americans experience some form of irreversible visual impairment. As many as 75,000 Americans become blind each year, and the visually impaired category increases by 120,000. The fastest growing segment of this population is the elderly, who are at the greatest risk of developing degenerative eye disease.

FleetBoston Financial is the seventh-largest financial holding company in the United States offering a comprehensive array of innovative financial solutions to 20 million customers. Through its Personal Financial Services franchise, Fleet offers retail banking, wealth management and investment services, nationwide brokerage, credit card and consumer lending services. These services are available through approximately 1,500 branches and more than 3,500 ATMs in the Northeast; through Fleet HomeLink(SM) online banking, one of the nation’s leading online banking platforms; and through telephone banking.