IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Audio-enabled ATM provides transactions for people with visual impairments
Alexis Smith, director of diversity affairs for UCSU, is grateful to U.S. Bank for its recent installation of an audio-enabled ATM at the UMC. “They listened to us, and have been wonderful to work with,” she said.
ATM accessibility for people with visual impairments at CU-Boulder has been an important goal for UCSU and other campus groups. “We learned from Disability Services that vision-impaired students were having to leave campus to find an audio-enabled ATM,” said Smith. “When these students plugged in their headsets at a campus ATM, there was no audio output.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) mandates “accessibility” for people with visual impairments, although the act was drafted before ATM full audio capability had been realized. Today, some banks have voluntarily replaced machines with new audio-enabled ATMs, but many older ATMs in service do not have this feature.
In her investigation of ownership and operation of the ATMs, Smith discovered that every building has its own contract with banks or ATM owners. “In January 2009, we started seeking CU administration support for ATM audio capability as a requirement for bank contract renewal at the UMC; I thought it would be good to have some allies, and administration was very supportive,” said Smith. “I also found that Michael Roseberry was working on it independently, so we joined forces.”
Roseberry, ADA coordinator at CU-Boulder, said USCU was “tremendously helpful,” and he worked closely with Smith and other student officials on ATM accessibility. “They took it on from the student governance side and were instrumental in making it happen,” he said.
Roseberry, Smith and their allies considered how best to realize the goal of accessibility. “We decided that the easiest thing would be to go through UCSU,” Smith said, “and that was because UCSU has jurisdiction over the UMC site via student fees. Mike and I took stock of all the ATMs in the UMC and found that none were accessible, and got student testimony to that effect.” Both U.S. Bank and Elevations Credit Union have ATMs located within or just outside the UMC. There is also a third party owner of some ATMs, said Smith.
Armed with this information, UCSU officials drafted ATM legislation that passed unanimously in February 2009. The bill mandated that ATM providers with UMC contracts must install at least one accessible ATM at the time that the contract is renewed, if not sooner. It specified ADA compliance and audio lead-through, headphone jack, automatic media deposit and ejection, and Braille instructions on the ATM keypad.
Roseberry then contacted both Elevations and U.S. Bank. “On April 30, I had a conference call with Carol Best, a regional project manager at U.S. Bank with whom I had previously discussed the USCU legislation, and with other CU officials. We were working out a solution to upgrade the ATM before the renewal and reached agreement,” he said. “After that conversation, Carol informed us that an audio-enabled machine would be installed before classes started in the fall.” Accordingly, U.S. Bank replaced one of its two ATMs outside of the UMC (the rightmost of the two just left of the doors) with an audio-enabled model in August 2009.
Smith is pleased with U.S. Bank’s proactive response and quick installation. The work continues with remaining contracts. “We would really like to see an installation inside the building,” she said.
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