For Deaf and Blind Investors, Barriers and Lawsuits

For Deaf and Blind Investors, Barriers and Lawsuits

Banks and brokers are often inaccessible.

Blind and deaf investors have a hard time finding help with managing their money, The New York Times reports.

Despite the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and despite lawsuits and heightened awareness of the needs of people with disabilities, banks and investment firms often don’t cater to deaf and blind customers.

Albert Rizzi, the founder of My Blind Spot, an accessibility advocacy group in New York, filed a federal lawsuit last year against Morgan Stanley, the firm he uses to manage his personal retirement accounts.

He had given up on trying to manage his nest egg because as a blind person, he constantly encountered digital barriers.

Mr. Rizzi’s suit accused the bank of violating the ADA, “denying access to its websites to individuals with disabilities who are visually impaired” and who require screen-reader software to access digital content, and not having an accessibility website or hotline. He sought about $9 million in damages; the case was settled last summer, his lawyer, Lambros Lambrou, told The Times.

In a separate case, the Justice Department accused Wells Fargo of ADA violations in 2011 because the bank failed to accept video phone calls from deaf customers. The bank had to pay $16 million to some account holders and fix other of accessibility problems.

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