On July 26, 2010, the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the United States Department of Justice issued a final ruling on new accessibility standards under the ADA. The 2010 ADA Standards, published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010, require financial institutions to provide communication-related elements for both new and existing automated teller machines (ATMs).

Communication-related elements, such as speech output capabilities, are considered “auxiliary aids and services” and are required for new and existing ATMs under the 2010 ADA Standards unless doing so would impose an “undue burden.” What constitutes an “undue burden” is a subjective inquiry based on several factors discussed in the final rule. Although the determination of precisely which “auxiliary aids and services” must be offered is flexible, the goal is to ensure that effective communication is provided to all customers.

The final rule states that financial institutions are not required to have completed an upgrade of the communicative elements offered by existing ATMs by the compliance date of March 15, 2011, but must at least implement a compliance plan by this date.