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User1st Director Discusses the Threat of ADA Lawsuits with American Banker

May 29, 2018

Managing Director of User1st Matt Triner recently weighed in on the new surge of ADA lawsuits and its particular impact on banks with American Banker. In the article, Triner explains that a major factor endangering the 51 banks currently under fire for inaccessibility to persons with disabilities – and any other bank – is a lack of proactivity and consistency in implementing a program that is constantly assessing and mitigating issues. “A lot of people do slapdash efforts to get into compliance,” Triner told American Banker. “But if you don’t have a program in place to continuously work on it, you’re going to fall out of compliance. Websites are not static things. They’re always changing.”

This legal threat grows more formidable when an accusation of inaccessibility can be compounded by a case for employment discrimination. Web pages used for submitting job applications are often not ADA compliant, the article details, and lawyers have begun suing companies for discriminating against candidates with disabilities.

Banks may in fact be one of the most susceptible institutions to accessibility errors, due to the interactive nature of banking websites. Because the nature of banking websites is transactional, and not simply to view or hear content, Triner says this poses a uniquely complicated problem for banks to solve. “The more transactional your site is, the more complex the accessibility issues,” he said.

Triner mentions that banks can take several different approaches to correct and maintain compliance. For example, User1st provides software that assesses present errors and equips websites with keyboard navigation aids, conversions of screens to monochromatic colors, and a tool to block bright, flashing lights as a protection against epilepsy.

Though 3 large banks, including BNY Mellon, TrustCo, and New Miilenium have settled their ADA cases, Triner noted that if a bank settles out of court without judge approval, they aren’t out of the woods yet if their website is still out of compliance – “You can be sued again tomorrow,” he warns.

In February, the House voted in favor of a bill that would require a six-month grace period between informing a company of a noncompliant website and filing a lawsuit, which would give companies the chance and motivation to implement a program like User1st. However, Democrats in the Senate plan to oppose this grace period, which Triner says will leave banks vulnerable to a lawsuit at any time that they remain out of compliance.

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