"Our State has a proud history of leading the way on enacting and enforcing fundamental civil rights protections that provide equal opportunity for all New Yorkers,"
In this particular case, DHR initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint alleging a bank's refusal to accommodate a customer's visual impairment to access banking services. DHR analyzed several bank websites to determine whether they were accessible and were using technology that would allow people with visual impairments to effectively utilize their services. Also examined was whether statements, bank notices and checks were offered in alternative formats such as Braille or audio. After this analysis, staff conducted over 100 telephone test calls using a questionnaire that included inquiries about the availability of online services for people with visual impairments and materials in alternative formats. Based on the results of this investigation, discrimination complaints were filed against the twelve banks.
All of the banks have agreed to comply with state law by providing services to persons with visual impairments, including informational material and forms in large print, Braille and audio, among other measures. Furthermore, as part of the agreements, banks will train customer service staff regarding the appropriate handling of calls or requests made by customers with visual impairments.
DHR Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement Melissa Franco said, "This is a perfect example of how the Division is working collaboratively to educate New Yorkers about the State's Human Rights Law to achieve our goal of preventing and eradicating unlawful discrimination. The filing of these complaints should serve as a reminder that the Division's authority is not limited to handling complaints from members of the public and that we can and we will take action to identify and remedy Human Rights Law violations on our own initiative."
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