National Federation of the Blind and Massachusetts Reach Agreement with Nation’s Largest ATM Deployer
Cardtronics Agrees to Make Nearly 30,000 ATMs Accessible
Baltimore, Maryland (June 27, 2007): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind persons, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Cardtronics Inc., which has the largest ATM network in the United States, today announced a landmark agreement that will make the vast majority of the ATMs owned, sold, or serviced by Cardtronics accessible to the blind by July 1, 2010. The settlement agreement, which ends years of litigation, will cover each and every ATM owned or operated by Cardtronics. Taking into account the five thousand ATMs that Cardtronics plans to acquire from 7-Eleven, Inc. pursuant to an agreement announced earlier this month, the total number of ATMs covered by this settlement agreement will approach thirty thousand. Cardtronics ATMs are located in every state in the U.S. and are found in convenience stores, grocery stores, drugstores, national retailers, airports, and train stations. These ATMs will be equipped with a voice guidance feature that can be activated by plugging headphones into a jack on the ATM. The National Federation of the Blind will monitor the progress of Cardtronics in making its ATMs accessible as prescribed by the settlement agreement.
The parties anticipate that the notice, hearing, and approval process required by the court will take three to five months, with the settlement becoming effective late this year.
Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The ATM is the most common way for members of the sighted public to conduct financial transactions. To be full participants in modern society, blind people must have access to these devices. This agreement represents a monumental step forward for all blind Americans. We look forward to working with Cardtronics to make sure that blind people everywhere can experience the same fast, convenient service that sighted people enjoy.”
Jack Antonini, President and CEO of Cardtronics, agreed with Dr. Maurer and stated: “The settlement of this litigation will permit all parties to focus their attention where it counts, namely on improving ATM accessibility. I share Dr. Maurer’s view that this settlement agreement is a significant milestone and am proud that together with the National Federation of the Blind, Cardtronics will be a leader, not a follower, in improving ATM accessibility.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said: “With today’s technology, there is no reason that every ATM shouldn’t be outfitted with this equipment as a means to comply with access requirements. This agreement will result in blind consumers across the country having improved access to one of the most basic devices that we take for granted.”
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required ATMs to be made accessible to the blind. Large financial services institutions such as Bank of America have been installing ATMs with a voice guidance feature for many years, but ATMs installed in convenience stores, drugstores, airports, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other places have not kept pace with this trend. To remedy this situation, the National Federation of the Blind and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts brought suit against E*Trade Bank and E*Trade Access. In June 2004, E*Trade sold its ATM portfolio to Cardtronics, Inc., which is now the largest deployer of ATMs both in the United States and in the world. This landmark agreement is the culmination of that litigation. Today Cardtronics ATMs primarily provide customers with basic financial transactions such as cash dispensing, but Cardtronics is exploring the addition of advanced functionality features to many of its ATMs so as to enable the consumer, including the blind consumer, to make image deposits, pay bills like a utility or cell phone bill, transfer money, cash checks, and perform similar financial transactions at the ATM. The agreement requires that all consumer transactions on U.S. deployed Cardtronics owned ATMs must be able to be performed independently by the blind.