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NRF says potential ADA self-service rules would cost billions

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation is cautioning federal officials that a proposal to make it easier for disabled individuals to use self-service devices would be unworkable if applied to retail stores because the necessary technology isn’t yet available, and that replacement of existing equipment could cost merchants billions of dollars without achieving the proposal’s purposes.?

“NRF and its members support the goals and objectives of the ADA and appreciate the patronage of their customers with disabilities,” NRF said. But the government “should allow adequate time for the technology industry to develop cost-effective solutions for these enhanced requirements and also minimize the substantial economic costs associated with compliance” before imposing new regulations, NRF said.??

NRF’s remarks came in comments filed with the U.S. Access Board, an independent agency that advises on implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, a similar law that covers federal agencies. While the current proposal comes under the latter and would apply only to federal agencies, Access Board recommendations are frequently adopted by the Justice Department and applied to ADA rules for the private sector as well. ?

The Access Board in March issued a proposed update of rules for electronic devices such as cell phones and computers. Included were requirements to make “self service machines” more accessible to individuals with a wide range of disabilities. If applied to retail stores, the proposal could affect devices such as self-checkout lanes, credit card swipe/PIN/signature pads used with cash registers, price-check scanners, in-store computer kiosks and a variety of other equipment.?NRF said the proposed regulations “may not effectively serve the purpose for which they are intended” because devices meeting the requirements are not currently available and aren’t expected to be available soon.

With signature capture devices costing about $350 each, price check devices at $400 and kiosks at $4,000, NRF said costs could be astronomical. Replacing just one signature device at each of the 1.6 million retail establishments across the country would cost more than half a billion dollars, and many stores have scores of the devices. New equipment meeting the proposed requirements would probably cost more than current devices, driving costs higher, NRF said.

In addition, much of the equipment in stores is propriety and would require substantial retooling or modification costs to replace, along with costs for installation and integrating new devices into existing computer systems.??NRF asked that the proposed regulations be reconsidered or at least be limited to installation of new equipment as existing devices are replaced. Even then, requirements should not go into effect until the products are commercially available.

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