In Our Opinion

Accessibility doesn’t end with your website

By August 11, 2022 No Comments

If you are charged with developing or managing a website for your financial institution, it’s likely that you have been asked about accessibility. The reason is clear – there is a growing push by organizations including the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to ensure that sites are accessible to all visitors as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In response, banks and credit unions are looking at their websites to improve accessibility. Changes can include improving color contrast, ensuring images use text alternatives, introducing keyboard navigation, and captioning videos.

Organizations may also subscribe to services such as SiteImprove which assess their sites and identify barriers to accessibility, or AudioEye which overlays an accessibility tool (unfortunately, according to some users these tools may not be as helpful as they appear).

These are important first steps to ensuring your site is useable not just to those with disabilities, but to all visitors to your site who might have difficulties seeing, hearing, or otherwise engaging.

(Here’s a fast fact from the CDC – Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error).

But the question remains – is it enough?

In September 2016, the American Bankers Association suggested members establish a standard for accessibility for all vendors when signing or renewing a contract. In our experience, this is not happening, with accessibility remaining an afterthought.

The good news, most vendors are starting to catch up, but that still leaves many financial institutions unclear or uninformed about whether fundamental tools such as online banking, mobile banking, and online applications are compliant.

So what should you do?

  • Access your current website – It’s not enough to trust a developer has made the site accessible, you want it documented. Consider subscribing to a service that will regularly review, report, and rate your site for ongoing accessibility. These services can be expensive, but as the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
  • Access your online services – Assuming your organization works with fintech partners to provide online banking and other services, ask for information about accessibility. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you may be disappointed. But knowledge is power, and with it, you can start moving to better accessibility for all your customers.
  • Keep learning, keep improving – The standards for website accessibility continue to change. This is not a situation where you can “set it and forget it.” Keep reading, learning, and striving to improve.