This press release was issued as a result of the LaSalle Bank Settlement Agreement which addressed ATMs, the bank’s website, and alternative formats. The agreement was negotiated using Structured Negotiations on behalf of the Chicago affiliate of the American Council of the Blind and Kelly Pierce, a long-time advocate for Talking ATMs and financial service access. The settlement was negotiated by Lainey and co-counsel Amy Peterson of the Chicago-based disability rights organization Equip For Equality.
LaSalle Bank Corporation to Offer Improved Services for Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Bank Plans Talking ATMs, Accessible Web Sites and Documents, Other Services, in Conjunction with Equip for Equality and American Council of the Blind Chicago Affiliate
Chicago, IL and Troy, MI –- LaSalle Bank Corporation subsidiaries LaSalle Bank and Standard Federal Bank announced today that they have launched several major initiatives intended to provide easier access to their banking services or individuals with visual impairments. These initiatives include the installation of Talking ATMs, a more user-friendly format on the banks’ Web sites, and greater accessibility to printed materials. LaSalle Bank Corporation worked with Equip for Equality and the American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago, two Illinois-based non-profit organizations; Kelly Pierce, a Chicago blind advocate and technology specialist; and Lainey Feingold, a California lawyer who has assisted members of the blind community nationally on this issue, on the plan to convert its entire ATM network over the next three years and to provide other services. LaSalle Bank and Standard Federal Bank operate a combined network of more than 1,500 ATMs in the Midwest. Principal Web sites are www.lasallebank.com and www.standardfederalbank.com
“The banks successfully piloted Talking ATMs at 25 locations in 2004,” said Steve Nowaczyk, senior vice president responsible for LaSalle Bank Corporation’s ATM network. “This feature will bring the convenience of our extensive ATM network to people with visual impairments as well as anyone else who has difficulty reading an ATM screen.”
Individuals can access the talking features, including a brief orientation, by inserting a headset into an audio jack located on the front of the ATM. All of the Talking ATMs speak in both English and Spanish. Headsets are available for free at LaSalle Bank or Standard Federal Bank branches with Talking ATMs. Talking ATM kits with headsets and instructions on audio cassette and in large print can be ordered at the branches or through the banks’ call centers. Customers can easily find Talking ATM locations using the “Locations” option on the banks’ Web sites or by calling the bank’s toll-free customer service telephone line.
“We applaud LaSalle Bank Corporation for its proactive approach to improving banking services for the blind community and others with difficulty reading standard print,” said Amy F. Peterson, senior attorney at Equip for Equality. “This is an example of how assistive technology can make a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities.” Her comments were echoed by Albert Anderson, the president of the American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago, an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind that worked with the bank on this initiative. “The bank has demonstrated a firm commitment to making its services widely available,” said Mr. Anderson, “and we congratulate it on the far reaching initiatives announced today.”
In addition to Talking ATMs, LaSalle Bank and Standard Federal Bank offer a number of services designed to make banking easier for people with visual impairments. For example, retail deposit account statements are available in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, and on audio and computer disc. Raised-line checks are now available for the same price as standard checks and any mass-produced bank document, such as checking brochures, can be provided in an alternative format such as Braille upon request. The banks’ Web sites are also being updated according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web consortium (www.w3.org) to make them more accessible.
About Equip for Equality
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit entity designated in 1985 by the Governor to administer the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy system for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. EFE is dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to live full and independent lives by providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigations.
About American Council of the Blind, Metropolitan Chicago Affiliate
The American Council of the Blind of Metropolitan Chicago (ACBMC) is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, advocating on behalf of blind and visually impaired people of all ages. ACBMC works to improve the educational, economic, social and cultural opportunities for all people who are blind and visually impaired in the Chicago area. ACBMC can be reached at (217) 523-4967. The Website of ACBMC is www.acb.org.
About LaSalle Bank Corporation
LaSalle Bank Corporation is headquartered in Chicago with $103.4 billion in assets. Its primary subsidiaries are LaSalle Bank and Standard Federal Bank.
LaSalle Bank National Association is based in Chicago with $63.7 billion in assets, $37.7 billion in deposits, more than 140 retail locations and 500 ATMs. LaSalle Bank is the second largest bank in Chicago. Subsidiaries include LaSalle National Leasing Corporation, LaSalle Business Credit, LLC and ABN AMRO Financial Services, Inc.
LaSalle Bank maintains commercial offices in Boca Raton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New England (covering Connecticut, Boston and New Jersey), Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Rockford, Peoria, St. Louis, Tampa and Miami.
Standard Federal Bank is headquartered in Troy, MI, with $39.1 billion in assets and $20.2 billion in deposits. One of the largest banks in the Midwest, Standard Federal offers a complete range of investment, commercial and retail banking solutions through 261 branches and more than 1,000 ATMs in Michigan and Indiana. In 2005, Standard Federal will take the name LaSalle Bank Midwest National Association, creating a unified LaSalle Bank brand with LaSalle Bank in Chicago. The banks, which are indirect subsidiaries of Netherlands-based ABN AMRO Bank N.V., will not merge as a result of this name change.
Equip for Equality
Amy F. Peterson, Senior Attorney
Barry C. Taylor, Legal Advocacy Director
TTY: (800) 610-2779
LaSalle Bank Corporation
Shawn Platt – Chicago, IL
Robert J. Darmanin – Troy, MI
Law Office of Elaine B. Feingold
1524 Scenic Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94708