Saturday, April 23, 2011

More banks making ATMs accessible

From The McPherson Sentinel in Kan.:

MCPHERSON, Kan. — Bryce Brewer has his work cut out for him.

The Peoples Bank and Trust Vice President for Technology is in charge of retrofitting or replacing nine ATMs for the bank before March 2012. He has one complete and eight more to go.

Brewer and employees at nearly every bank and credit union across the country realized a heft to-do list following the adoption of new rules and regulations for ATMs from the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act.

The new compliance requirements are complex and technical and will require nearly all ATMs to be updated. That means time and money for financial institutions.

“While the new ADA compliance standards have been on the ATM industry’s radar for many years, the reality of fully understanding the intricacies of the new rules and actually complying with them within the next 17 months will be an overwhelming task for many ATM deployers,” said Sam M. Ditzion, CEO, Tremont Capital Group.

The ADA regulations will require every ATM to be voice activate, have Braille keypads and, for indoor machines, have automatic doors and sufficient space for wheelchair access.

Jan Seiler, vice president at Home State Bank and Trust, said the bank has already started brining its machines into compliance. The new auto-bank location meets the new ADA standards and plans are in place to replace the bank’s three remaining machines. Seiler said replacement is more cost-effective than trying to update old technology and machines.

John Paulson, president of Citizens Community Bank, said the ATM located at the bank’s McPherson branch is relatively new and therefore will require minimal upgrades. But the bank is facing some major expenses at its other locations.

The ATM at its Arlington branch is substantially older and is located inside the foyer of the bank. The decision of whether to upgrade or replace the machine was made easier by thieves, who attempted to rob the ATM in February.

“It was an opportune time for us to make a commitment to safety and accessibility by purchasing a new ATM which will be installed in the wall of our building outside in our drive-thru,” Paulson said.

Peoples Bank will be able to make three ATMs complaint through software upgrades and replacing a keypad Brewer said. The remaining six ATMs will likely be replaced.

Even small changes Brewer said, aren’t cheap or simple. Machines without voice capability will require major changes to accommodate both sound and a head phone jack which can be a very complex upgrade.

For exterior and stand alone ATMs, the process will be slightly easier Brewer said.

All banks were required to have ADA compliance plans submitted to the government by March 15 and will have until March 15, 2012, to make all of the outlined changes.