WASHINGTON (10/15/10)--By now, most credit unions have heard about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) update to the accessibility standards governing the construction and alteration of facilities covered by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new ADA regulations were issued in late July. The DOJ’s 2010 Standards for Accessible Design consist of the DOJ’s revised regulations and the U.S. Access Board’s accessibility guidelines that were issued in 2004. New standards for ATMs are the most relevant changes for credit unions. The 2010 ADA standards address both physical access and communication-related elements to make ATMs usable by individuals who are visually impaired as well as those who have mobility challenges. “There has been a great deal of confusion regarding the effective date versus the compliance date for the 2010 accessibility standards,” said Credit Union National Association director of compliance information Valerie Moss. According to the DOJ, compliance with most of the regulation’s provisions is required on March 15, 2011. However, the mandatory compliance date for the 2010 accessibility standards is March 15, 2012. Any ATMs that are newly installed or altered on or after March 15, 2012 will be required to comply with the 2010 accessibility standards. However, there is a safe harbor for ATMs that are in compliance with the original 1991 ADA accessibility standards. These ATMs will not need to be modified unless they are altered on or after March 15, 2012. ATMs that do not comply with the 1991 standards must be modified to comply with either the 1991 or 2010 standards before March 15, 2012. The 1991 standards required that instructions and all information for use be made “accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments.” So, practically speaking, most ATMs will still need to be speech enabled in order to meet either the 1991 or 2010 standard for independent usage, added Moss. Credit unions should review Section 707 of the Access Board’s Accessibility Guidelines and consult with their ATM service providers to determine what changes will need to be made to their ATMs.