Comments on ATMs
We generally approve of the Department’s increased specificity of design standards for automated teller and fare machines.
We object, however, to the Department’s proposed safe harbor, which would not only have the potential to permit existing inaccessible ATMs to remain but may be interpreted to permit entities to purchase used ATMs without speech output. Such a safe harbor, however narrowly drawn, would prevent many blind individuals, particularly those in rural areas or who frequent small retailers, from accessing the services their sighted counterparts enjoy. The exemption is thus contrary to the purpose and requirements of Title III of the ADA and should not be considered.
Furthermore, the rationale that underpins the proposed safe harbor does not apply here. This is not an “incremental” change, where public accommodations that have complied – whether through new construction or barrier removal -- face the prospect of a second round of barrier removal to comply with stricter standards. Rather, this has the potential to be a wholesale loophole for non-compliant machines. Currently, where ATMs constitute “existing facilities,” the factors in the ADA’s “readily achievable” analysis provide sufficient protection for small businesses.