December 04, 2018

CUs, NAFCU reiterate need for ADA guidance, website standards to SBA, DOJ

SBA roundtable
NAFCU's Kaley Schafer with SPCO Credit Union President and CEO Tim Adams at yesterday's roundtable. (NAFCU photo)

NAFCU-member credit union representatives and staff joined a roundtable Monday at the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the Justice Department (DOJ) at which the association again called for the department to offer guidance and standards for website accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Tim Adams, president and CEO of SPCO Credit Union (Houston, Texas) and NAFCU Regulatory Affairs Counsel Kaley Schafer attended the roundtable.

In conjunction with in-person attendees, there were more than 100 individuals on the phone from 23 different states, including NAFCU-member credit union President and CEO Lynette Smith of Washington Gas Light Federal Credit Union (Springfield, Va.). Representatives from banks, other credit unions, movie theaters and hotel owners also joined the roundtable.

The roundtable focused on ADA accessibility concerns. NAFCU has been working to obtain guidance from the DOJ on website accessibility standards for more than a year, and continues to defend credit unions facing meritless lawsuits as a result of ambiguities in the law.

Representatives from the DOJ's Disability Rights Section provided an overview of issues small business face related to ADA requirements. Attendees also had an opportunity to share their experiences on the issues.

NAFCU has engaged with the Justice Department and Congress to provide guidance on this issue. In September, a group of senators – led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – sent a NAFCU-sought letter to the DOJ urging that it provide clarity on this issue.

In October, NAFCU attended oral arguments for the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union (DOLFCU) held by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The association has filed 16 amicus briefs, including two at the appellate level (one for DOLFCU), in seven different states to support credit unions targeted by ADA website accessibility litigation. So far, seven of the complaints in which NAFCU has supported the credit union have been dismissed.

While NAFCU and its members strongly support the protections of the ADA, it believes that these efforts are best achieved through clear guidance and standards for website compliance, not through meritless and costly lawsuits.

NAFCU resources for dealing with the ADA issue can be found here.