Recently, the League has made credit unions in the state aware through an email from CEO David Frankil that several New Jersey credit unions have received demand letters from a California law firm, asserting that their Web site is not in compliance with requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The letter states that their client (who is blind) is entitled to “damages, attorney’s fees, and an accessibility injunction,” and suggesting that the credit union contact them for a “confidential resolution” to avoid suit being filed within two weeks. If you receive such a letter, what should you do?

The League also sent a communication to New Jersey credit unions directing them to add language to their Web site that directs visually-impaired users to call your credit union as a preliminary step. View that message and the suggested language here.

Your very first step should be contacting your bond provider.

Here are some tips and resources to help you navigate Web site ADA issues: 

1. Check to see if you’re website is compliant by going to http://wave.webaim.org/ and use the free tool to determine whether your website has any issues that might open the credit union to any legal liability

2. If any issues are identified, address them as soon as possible – the best defense to these demand letters is to not provide them with any opportunities (If you need help reviewing or modifying your Web site, our partner, YourMarketingCo, has been working on ADA issues for their clients, and is offering special discounts to NJCUL members.)

3. CUNA’s compliance resources for this issue can be accessed at the links below:

4. Check out CUNA’s advocacy page on the current situation and steps the Association is taking

CUNA has also:

CUNA held an ADA Web Site Litigation & Resources Webinar on Thursday, January 18th. Click here to register to receive the recording of the webinar. 

Credit unions also need to pay attention to the accessibility of their automated teller machines (ATMs). The past two years, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against financial institutions for non-compliance. Here are a few tips to help prevent frivolous lawsuits against your credit union:

  1. Include ADA compliance in routine ATM inspections at the same time you’re checking them for security concerns, foreign devices such as skimmers, fee disclosers, and funds availability. Machines should be physically inspected at least once per month. The inspector should always bring headphones or ear buds to check that the audio jack is working.
  2. Use a checklist to document your inspection so you don’t miss any key functions that a visually impaired user might need. Consider taking a photo to make the documentation even stronger.
  3. Look for these common ADA compliance issues:
    • The voice activation feature doesn’t work.
    • Lack of privacy features. For example, the screen should go blank when the user activates the speech function, so nobody can look over the user’s shoulder and see private information.
    • The headphone jack is broken or isn’t enabled.
    • No volume control.
    • No repeat/interrupt function.
    • No sticker with Braille instructions.
    • Function keys don’t have raised symbols.

Credit unions should also review the Department of Justice’s ADA Technical Standards for Accessible Design.

Contact:
Nicola Foggie, CUCE, BSACS
Vice President, Compliance & Regulatory Affiars
nfoggie@njcul.org
1-800-792-8861, option 1