How Accessible is Your Banking Website?
Whether as executives, technologists, marketers, or even as customers ourselves, we all know that a rewarding online banking experience means that consumers find and use financial services information and products as seamlessly and easily as possible.
The more convenient, the better, especially as growing swaths of banking customers opt to ONLY bank online. To deliver on the demand for ever-present, ever-available banking, you analyze customer and member needs and behaviors, provide clear website content and navigation, innovate to produce new products and applications, integrate third-party platforms, and maintain smooth-running technology systems to support it all —all to make access to your products and services easy to use at every opportunity.
However, without evaluating how access applies to people with disabilities, you could be doing a disservice to a significant portion of the population.
Many digital banking customers who have disabilities depend on properly structured websites and applications that give them information they need to use your site independently. A person who is blind or who has other visual impairments may use a screen reader and only a keyboard (no mouse!) to navigate your site. Individuals with cognitive or mobility impairments may also use assistive technologies that depend on proper coding to allow them to move around logically within your digital environment. Audio descriptions and certain user-controlled customizations also provide greater access to those with a range of disabilities.
Without these structures, people with visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive disabilities encounter constant barriers to interacting with your financial institution—not physical ones, but digital ones that keep them from perceiving, using, and navigating your content and web applications. And, as legal decisions continue to reinforce the idea that equal access to public accommodations includes equal access to online services (See Federal Court Holds ADA Applies to AmeriServ Bank Website for a May 2017 example), you could be exposing yourself to legal risk.
To help build awareness of digital accessibility for banking customers with disabilities, we’ve collected some information for you to browse and download. We hope it helps you continue your work building a winsome and rewarding customer experience—one that convinces potential customers (of all abilities) to become new ones, and new ones to become loyal ones that refer friends, family, and business associates.
Articles on Digital Banking and Accessibility
Over the past year, our Accessibility in the News curation has collected no fewer than 27 industry articles focused on legal activity and commentary surrounding bank and credit union accessibility. Content includes news stories, legal blogs, opinion pieces, and more, with links to the original publications.
Digital Banking Commentary and Helps
The following accessibility commentaries, primarily from our Digital Accessibility Digest blog, offer tips and insights that are especially relevant to banks, credit unions, and the financial services industry:
- Digital Accessibility Checklist: 10 Critical Elements to Evaluate for Website Accessibility — Jun 7, 2017. Original version published in Mealey’s™ Litigation Report: Cyber Tech & E-Commerce. Mealey’s is a division of LexisNexis.
- The Mortgage Industry’s Next Headache: Website Accessibility Requirements — May 17, 2017. MortageOrb.com
- Successful Remediation Strategies for Websites Facing Accessibility Litigation — Feb 24, 2017. Original version published in Mealey’s™ Litigation Report: Cyber Tech & E-Commerce. Mealey’s is a division of LexisNexis.
- Industry Article Highlights Accessible Banking, Concerns over Legal Risk — References November 10, 2016 Mortgage News article.
- Coming Soon to Banks and Credit Unions: Accessibility Requirements for Websites — Oct 12, 2016.
Financial Services Accessibility Pages
Once an accessible digital environment—such as a website or mobile app—has been released, many organizations establish practices that ensure that accessibility is ongoing. This commitment is often articulated in a readily available accessibility statement.
The following is a list of financial services industry accessibility statements published in the last few months. It is by no means exhaustive.
- ACNB Bank
- American Bank
- Bank of the Pacific
- Banner Bank
- Barclays- The 9 ways banking with Barclays is more accessible than people thought
- Belmont Savings Bank
- Capital One
- Central Bank of Ireland
- Central Pacific Bank
- Colombia Bank
- Community First
- Cornerstone Bank
- The Dime Bank
- Financial Conduct Authority
- First Financial Northwest Bank
- Grand Forks Credit Union
- Great Western Bank
- Horizon Bank Texas
- Kitsap Bank
- Peoples Bank
- People’s United Bank
- Rapport Credit Union
- Smile Bank
- Sterling National Bank
- TD Bank
- Texas Capital Bank
- Towne Bank
- Union Community Bank
- Washington Trust Bank
What Does All This Mean for Digital Banking Professionals?
Online banking, whether for businesses or consumers, is undergoing a tremendous amount of innovation and transformation with the integration of artificial intelligence, biometric identification, mobile banking technologies, and so much more. The anticipated ease of use and anytime access for traditional banking services is astounding. But while technology implementations accelerate, it’s important to remember that while many of these innovations make things more convenient or more secure for many, for people with disabilities, they make things possible (Credit goes to Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, for this take on her oft-quoted remark, “For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient, whereas for people with disabilities, it makes things possible…”).
Providing everyone with equal access to online banking services isn’t just good customer service, it’s critical for businesses as our populations age and disabilities increase. Digital accessibility also reduces your risk of exposure to legal action as traditional services move online and expectations of equal access continue to affect legal decisions.
Contact our Accessibility Team for information on conducting an accessibility audit of your website and find our where your digital environments stand.
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