DOJ settlement requires bank to accommodate deaf customer with video relay calls

United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Deirdre M. Daly, has announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement with Webster Bank to ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities at all Webster Bank locations, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

DOJ

The agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by an individual who is deaf who alleged that Webster Bank would not do business with him using a video relay service. The agreement requires Webster Bank to accept video relay calls in all of its branches and to amend its policies, practices and training to ensure the removal of barriers to access at its branches.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by businesses that serve the public. Among other things, the ADA requires financial institutions, accountants, lawyers, doctors and other businesses to provide auxiliary aids and services that are necessary for effective communication. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, auxiliary aids include qualified sign language or oral interpreters, use of relay services, computer-assisted real time transcription, and, for simple communications, the exchange of written notes.

“Individuals who have disabilities must not be denied equal access to the services offered by financial institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Daly.

Since the commencement of the investigation, Webster Bank has worked cooperatively to develop and amend its policies and practices to comply with the ADA and the Department of Justice’s implementing regulations, the DOJ reports. But, the Department of Justice said that they have received complaints about other financial institutions and plan a review of those institutions as well.

Webster Bank’s cooperation during this investigation reflects the bank’s commitment to equal access and effective communication with all of its customers, including those with disabilities. Our office has also received complaints alleging that other financial institutions have refused to communicate with individuals with disabilities who use relay services to communicate by telephone. As such refusals suggest a discriminatory practice, we have begun a compliance review of banks in Connecticut to ensure that all such banks are complying with their obligations under the ADA,” U.S. Attorney Daly stated.

(NOTE: If you are a public or private entity including a University, college, or school district and have questions regarding your compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) or if you are in need of an ADA Transition Plan, contact Accessology here http://www.accessology.com )

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