Answer from Randy: 99.9% of any actions taken under the ADA would involve a private lawsuit. The regulators spend little time on ADA.
Answer from Andy: There is no regulation addressing these requirements. What we have are legal cases and risk management. Going back to 2002 there was a case against Southwest Airlines and a judge ruled that the ADA applied to physical spaces, and not web sites.
Since then there have been many cases brought against major corporations such as Netflix, Target, Priceline.com, Ramada.com, Wells Fargo and more. Many suits were brought by national organizations for the disabled and the companies will settle the suit as a business decision to address litigation costs and reputational risk. In the Netflix case the company requested dismissal saying the web wasn't ADA applicable and the judge disagreed. But rather than go to trial it was settled so there was no hard and fast ruling on the issue. In the Wells case the bank paid a $55,000 CMP and agreed to make a $1 million charitable donation. But this case involved more telecommunications relay systems and ATM access for the deaf than website issues, but customers were referred to the web from the relay system - and the website wasn't ADA compliant. Still, major companies don't want "to go there in a lawsuit" and if delivery of the product or service is integral through the web, there could easily be a ruling that the web delivery does need to comply. As a society we are more web-dependent than we were 10 years ago. The DOJ has indicated that it believes websites should be ADA compatible. Government sites must be.
If there is a hard and fast case that says banks need to be ADA compliant with websites, I haven't seen it. Is it a good idea - most certainly. But you could have issues with everything from Java to Flash to the colors of your font. There are companies that can review websites and assist in making them ADA compliant. It can be a big job. Having two sites is not a good option as "separate but equal" was struck down a long time ago. So it isn't a matter of making one site with all the tech bells and whistles, and one that is plain and is easily interpreted by a screen reader.
First published on BankersOnline.com 1/7/13.