Accessibility – Are All Your Financial Institution’s Digital Properties Compliant?

by | Mar 18, 2021

Your website may be compliant, but what about your customer documents?

Financial institutions in the US, Canada and the UK are legally required to ensure that all their services are accessible to people with disabilities.

Although the definition of what is considered a disability is slightly different per country, the required outcome is the same: people with disabilities must be able to access and enjoy the same level of service as anyone else.

To achieve this, organizations must provide for different types of disabilities (visual, audio, motor and cognitive), and a range of capability within each (low to high impairment).

Accessibility requirements extend to any service or communication that is provided by an organization to connect with customers. This includes physical services or properties such as bank or credit union branches, service centers and printed documents. It also includes digital services or properties, such as online documents, communications via email or text, as well as websites, portals and mobile apps.

What is accessibility in Customer Communications Management?  

Accessibility in Customer Communications Management refers to how easily a recipient with a physical impairment or learning disability can access or consume information. Regardless of whether it is contained on an organization’s portal or web page; in an email or text; or in a document that is presented online.   

Accessibility in customer communications management (CCM)

When it comes to accessibility in CCM, organizations must ensure that any communication, regardless of whether it is physically delivered or emailed to customers, can be consumed by someone with an impairment.

Recent media attention has placed a spotlight on website accessibility, specifically regarding the requirements and deadlines for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the UK’s Equality Act 2010.

The  (WCAG 2.1) have been established to provide organizations with guidelines as to what accessibility compliance really means.

However, it is not just your public website that must be accessible. There are many other digital properties that a company regularly shares with customers, that need to be reviewed for accessibility compliance.

Are all your digital properties accessible?

Digital communications, such as emails, documents, and payment processes, have not necessarily received the same level of attention as website compliance. This means that financial institutions, contrary to internal perceptions, may not yet have achieved accessibility compliance.

It is critical that your compliance team reviews all digital assets to ensure they are accessible:

  • Portal accessibility – company portals that require customers to log in to access services, confidential information and regulated documents must adhere to the same accessibility standards as public websites. This means that digital banking platforms must be compliant.
  • Email accessibility - transactional emails and marketing campaigns must be designed and developed to be consumed through assistive technologies, such as screen readers and magnifiers. In addition, any landing pages that are linked from emails must also be checked for accessibility.
  • Document accessibility -  to create accessible customer documents, such as notices, statements, and tax certificates, that are emailed or made available online to view or download, they must be generated through a compliant document generation platform.
  • Payment accessibility – payment processes and confirms must be easy to use for all customers, including those with visual, motor, or cognitive impairments.
  • Form accessibility – forms that a customer is required to complete and submit, for example an online loan application, must be accessible through a screen reader or other assistive technology.

    Mobile app accessibility - information and services provided through a mobile application, such as a digital banking app, must be accessible.

Why accessibility in Customer Communications Management is critically important

On the one hand, financial institutions have a legal or regulatory obligation to ensure that all customer communication is accessible. There are consequences for companies that don’t meet accessibility standards. These can come in the form of complaints to industry regulators or an ombudsman. If a regulatory body finds that an organization has failed in the provision of accessible assets, it can impose sanctions and fines can be quite hefty.

Aside from legal consequences, there is also the risk of reputational damage should an accessibility failure or subsequent lawsuit become the subject of negative media and social media coverage.

But the legal obligation and reputational risk should not be the primary drivers for accessibility.

For CCM professionals, the idea that you may be failing to reach a significant portion of your customer base should be the major concern. Customer experience should be your top priority, and accessibility is a critical part of that experience.

According to official statistics, around 10% of the world’s population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability.

The bottom line is – accessibility is a commercial necessity (and a business advantage).  

Need help auditing your communications for accessibility?

To address the need for accessible communications, financial institutions need to partner with a service provider that:

  • Understands accessibility requirements
  • Can assist with relevant advice and expertise
  • Provides a platform that can produce accessible communications on time and at scale for millions of recipients

Doxim offers an all-in-one partnership to help financial institutions create accessible customer documents and communications and distribute them securely. BOOK A CONSULTATION TO LEARN MORE

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Olga Zakharenkava
Vice President, Former CCM Product Management & Product Marketing at Doxim.
Olga focuses on delivering business value to Doxim’s clients through world-class SaaS CCM solutions. She has a strong background in CCM technology for the regulated industries, product management and project management.
Olga joined Doxim in 2017 as the head of Product Marketing, Demand Generation, and Communications, and prior to Doxim, held product, marketing and strategy leadership positions at companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500, including Telmetrics, OpenText, and JVL.
Olga holds an MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, an Honors Master's degree in Finance, and an Honors Bachelor's degree in Economics and International Management. Olga is a regular contributor to industry media, covering topics in marketing, financial services, productivity, and work management.

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