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More on ADA and Websites

by Lucy Griffin, BOL Guru

In the past several years, there has been a great deal of talk about fair lending and predatory lending to say nothing about unfair or deceptive trade practices. In all this concern about victims of unfair or discriminatory treatment, not much has been said about the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the world of banking, ADA has seemed fairly quiet.

There has been limited activity involving ADA and financial institutions only because financial institutions have worked hard to comply. Reconfiguring for physical access was done promptly and physical access for new structures is now standard. Similarly, financial institutions have done a great deal to accommodate customers and employees.

It is this high level of compliance that may give financial institutions an inappropriate sense of accomplishment in the world of ADA, allowing ADA to become a back burner concern. This it should not be.

A quick check of the EEOC and US Department of Justice websites will show you how active those agencies have been in enforcing ADA. States have also been active in ADA enforcement. The list of cases is both lengthy and current.

The latest action has involved websites. In August, New York State's Attorney General announced settlement of a case with two travel websites, Ramada.com and Priceline.com. Both websites have agreed to make changes to their websites that will enable blind and visually impaired users. The corrective action involves use of language and layout techniques on the websites that can be read by software used by the visually impaired.

The problem is surprisingly simple. Special software "reads" websites using a screen reader technology. Words presented visually on the web page are converted to spoken words. In order to work, the websites must present information in specific formats, including table layout with row and column headers that can be read by the software.

A quick check with your internet managers should let you know whether your institution's website is ADA compliant. If not, you have a new project!

Copyright © 2004 Compliance Action. Originally appeared in Compliance Action, Vol. 9, No. 9, 9/04

First published on 09/01/2004

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