Getting Started with Digital Accessibility at your Financial Institution

October 23, 2019

Is your financial institution accessible to the estimated 26% of the population living with some kind of disability1? Chances are good your physical premises, like your branches, have accommodations in place for these individuals. 

But if you haven’t taken a thorough look at the accessibility of your website, apps, and documents, then you aren’t really providing an inclusive and equitable experience for all your customers, including Persons with Disabilities (PWD).

The Legal Mandate

Digital accessibility isn’t just a “nice to have.”

If you’ve been watching the news about the accessibility case brought against Domino’s pizza, then you may already be aware that early in October, the Supreme Court left intact a lower court finding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  does indeed apply to digital space as well as physical space. Since 2016, Domino’s been embroiled in a lawsuit with a blind customer over a non-accessible website and has argued that the ADA, first established in 1990, should not apply to digital properties like websites. 

What does this mean for your financial institution? In a nutshell, just as you are required to maintain accessibility in your offices or branches, you also need to ensure that your digital properties are accessible. Otherwise, you could be subject to demand letters and lawsuits that threaten both your brand reputation and your bottom line. 

Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Charles Schwab are among the high-profile financial institutions that have already run afoul of this legislation by not making websites and apps accessible, with Wells Fargo paying up to 16 million dollars in compensation to hearing-impaired website users2! There’s no need for your FI to be next if you act now.

The Customer Experience Upside

Although the impetus to bring your FI into compliance with the ADA may be to avoid legal action, there’s a real and tangible customer experience upside to embarking on a digital accessibility project. 

For example, 24 million Americans report that they experience vision loss, and that number is expected to grow as the baby boomer generation ages and experience age-related vision degradation. 

This population will benefit from websites and documents that can be accessed through screen-reader technology, and indeed the American Federation for the Blind even recommends that individuals who experience barriers to such access “give serious consideration to changing banks3. Customers living with vision loss have the same customer experience (CX) expectations as the rest of your customer base – they want 24/7, barrier-free access to their financial information. 

Provide this, and you’ll retain these customers, and attract other customers who are looking for an inclusive FI. You’ll also enhance your brand reputation as an FI that cares about the quality of life of its customers.  

Document Accessibility for Effortless Banking

Making documents accessible is a critical part of any accessibility strategy. That’s because some of the most critical interactions between a consumer and their financial institution occur through their monthly statements, reports, and other transactional communications. 

By implementing accessible documents, you ensure that financial documentation can be read and reviewed by every customer, including those who use assistive technology like screen readers to access digital information. 

On the page, these documents look exactly like the eStatements and eReports you already provide to customers. But behind the scenes, additional attributes are added to the document, so an individual using assistive technology like a screen reader is provided with the data in a comprehensible fashion. The enhanced statements are then made available through an accessible portal, so customers with disabilities can access them easily.

Learn More About Accessibility

Are you ready to proactively meet ADA mandates around document accessibility, and enhance CX for a large and growing audience of customers and potential customers with disabilities? Download our latest e-Book today!

 


1 – https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html
2 – https://www.boia.org/blog/how-web-accessibility-improves-user-experience-for-financial-services-companies
3 – https://www.boia.org/blog/how-web-accessibility-improves-user-experience-for-financial-services-companies