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How often do you have to step into your bank these days to carry out a transaction? We wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is never. Most people rely on websites and mobile apps to complete their financial transactions and other banking needs. The truth is, so many people rely on digital transactions these days that most banks have closed several of their branches and ATMs.
But one area that the digital presence of financial institutions severely lacks is their accessibility for people with disabilities. The truth is that a lot of them do not bother about website accessibility until they get presented with an ADA demand letter. Research shows that many of them do not follow the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), and present several barriers to people with disabilities.
Several web accessibility solutions exist to help websites remediate WCAG errors and make them compliant. One solution that recently won Product Hunt of the week called accessiBe presents convenient solutions to make a website accessible without a need for a programmer. Other solutions like UserWay are also free but focus mostly on cosmetic changes. And then, web accessibility testers like aCe and WAVE can help you understand how accessible your website is to begin with and what needs remediating.
In this article, we are going to discuss some web accessibility myths and tips.
Myth: People With Disabilities Do Not Need Online Banking
Surveys have shown that a lot of people have to visit the branches because they cannot access online banking facilities. However, it also causes them inconvenience, and they would like to enjoy the benefits of accessing their financial assets from the comfort of their home like everyone else. The truth is that people with disabilities need online banking services more than others. Many of them have to face the challenges of transportation to visit their branches. They are often pressed for time because they need more time to complete various tasks of their daily routine. Online banking services that have been optimized for accessibility can save their customers with disabilities a lot of time and hassle. A bank with an accessible website will not only gain the loyalty of customers with disabilities but also of their friends, families, and well-wishers.
Myth: Banks Are Not Obligated to Make Their Websites Accessible
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) came into existence for thirty years, so it does not have any specifics regarding website accessibility. But the title III clearly states that places that are open to the public must be accessible to people with disabilities. Most judicial bodies consider websites to be a virtual extension of a business, and in that context, must be open to everyone. So all websites, including the ones for financial institutions, must be accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. Failure to do so may result in a demand letter from the ADA or an expensive lawsuit from a customer.
American financial institutions, such as the Bank of America and TD Ameritrade have faced accessibility disputes in the recent past and had to modify their financial services to make them accessible to customers with disabilities. TD Ameritrade also had to pay attorney fees and other legal charges because their online banking platform was inaccessible to screen readers. Several State laws govern accessibility in America as well. The New York Human Rights Laws deemed several banks in 2014 to present unacceptable barriers for website accessibility. All the banks had to modify their online banking to make it accessible.
Myth: People With Disabilities Do Not Have Any Wealth to Manage
Most people in financial institutions live under the impression that people with disabilities are dependent on others and do not have any income. While it might be true for some, a lot of individuals with disabilities earn more than the national average income. Recent surveys have shown that almost 22% of the American population living with disabilities earn four times the national average income. They also calculated that the cumulative earnings of Americans with disabilities is more than $870 billion.
Financial institutions also oversee the fact that accessible websites are not only convenient for people with disabilities but also for elderly citizens and people facing temporary disabilities. So banking institutions should consider the wealth management of such customers as well when they decide they don’t need accessible websites.
Myth: People With Disabilities Can Use Assistive Technology
While it is true that people with disabilities use assistive technologies to help them access websites, these solutions only work if the website gets optimized for accessibility. For example, if the images on a website do not contain appropriate alt text attributes, screen readers will not be able to relay the information to the visually impaired. Surveys have shown that people using assistive technologies often face multiple barriers when using financial websites. That is because financial websites often contain more detailed and complex information than most other sites.
People with disabilities often have the same requirements as a financial institution as others. The truth is, they might need more services from a bank than people without disabilities, such as loans for specialized equipment or savings accounts with tax benefits. While more and more financial institutions are recognizing these needs, several of them are still operating under false misconceptions. They must take advantage of accessibility solutions to optimize their websites for people living with disabilities.