Nurturing Accessibility in Banking: An Investment for All

Banking

Our daily lives are intricately related to banking, from purchasing the most basic essentials to managing credits and loans. However, despite regulatory frameworks in place, individuals with disabilities often encounter significant barriers when accessing banking websites and mobile apps. This blog post delves into the profound importance of cultivating a more inclusive banking experience. It emphasizes why it’s a valuable investment that can significantly enhance the lives of those with disabilities and how they can be part of digital inclusion. By breaking down the barriers that hinder their access to financial services, we can create a more equitable society that benefits everyone.

Laws Related to Accessibility in Banking

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that organizations engaging with the public must ensure equal treatment for all customers, regardless of disabilities. ADA also claims that disability rights are civil rights, including voting, parking, and many other fields of public life. However, the last audit uncovered that none of the top 30 U.S. financial institutions’ web pages met Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. In an era dominated by digital interactions, prioritizing accessible technology becomes a cornerstone for organizational initiatives, especially in the banking sector, and digital inclusion is a must.

Compliance Strategy 

To ensure that websites and apps are accessible to people with disabilities, it is important to follow a step-by-step strategy focusing on initial design and ongoing maintenance. The first step is to become familiar with accessibility standards, such as WCAG, and assess the current accessibility level of the digital product. This assessment usually involves conducting an accessibility audit and making the necessary changes to ensure accessibility using various tools and processes, including AI and manual iterations.

The future of accessibility depends on emerging technologies such as AI and Machine Learning. These technologies have been integrated into platforms like InclusiveDocs, making it one of the most advanced accessibility platforms. In addition to these processes, InclusiveDocs has screen readers to test navigability and readability and check color contrast, background, font style, font size, and other features.

Despite all the benefits of inclusive banking, many users face obstacles while using these services. Some of the issues include:

  1. Training and lack of awareness: Many customers don’t know how to use the benefits of accessible banking, and they are not familiar with the fact that such services exist
  2. No guidelines: There aren’t any guidelines for using online accessible banking services, and these institutions repetitively fail to deliver specific guidelines that will follow the appropriate standards for accessible online banking across different areas.
  3. Lack of evaluation and audit: When a banking platform gets an update, it never gets tested if the new design or feature has some errors when it comes to accessibility. It often fails and is full of bugs and glitches that make the online banking platform unusable for disabled people. 
  4. Feedback: The people behind the design or content on the online banking platforms are not familiar with the requests from disabled people because they don’t give their feedback and are not included in the process. 

How to Enhance  Accessibility in the Banking Sector 

The banking institutions should find an appropriate accessibility platform that will first thoroughly assess the baking platforms so they can inform the institutions about the bugs, errors, and everything that needs to be fixed. These are the basic content aspects: screen reader, navigation, color contrast, fonts, languages, images, audio, forms, buttons, links, and everything on the site. 

Implementing Accessible Solutions

Suppose banking institutions choose the right assistive technology. In that case, they will get an audit and an implemented solution for each document and guide, which will be compatible with all devices like smartphones, laptops, iPads,  and so on and will meet the WCAG Guidelines.

Accessibility and Support for All Clients 

All businesses, such as bank institutions, should provide accessibility and support to their clients and adjust online banking according to their needs. This may include extensive and clear instructions on accessibility features and informing everyone that this option is available. The assistive technology will transform the documents with options for zooming, making the print larger, and using TTS technology.

It is important to provide accessible customer service and feedback channels for customers who need assistance or have any queries or complaints regarding online banking accessibility. This can be achieved by offering various options such as phone, email, chat, or video calls. It is crucial to ensure that the staff handling these requests are properly trained to handle accessibility concerns and address them effectively. 

Lastly, the banks should promote digital inclusion and respect for everyone by not limiting their clients, educating everyone, and raising awareness over this issue. There should be special training for the staff to offer accessibility benefits, standards, and support to their clients. The easiest way to achieve full digital inclusion is by incorporating feedback from disabled customers and direct involvement in the design and development processes. 

Digital Trends in Online Banking Accessibility 

Despite the surge in digital banking, individuals with disabilities often encounter barriers, hindering their independent use of financial websites and apps. Online banking provides access for all customers through various devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, smart watches, or others. The design is often optimized and responsive, with active apps, chatbots, or voice assistants. 

As the digital landscape evolves, banks must stay competitive by offering services aligned with customer demands. With the ongoing surge in ADA-related lawsuits, emphasizing web accessibility is not just a legal obligation. Still, it is a strategic imperative for financial institutions, and thus, some of the cutting-edge technologies shape the future of digital inclusion of online banking, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning).

How InclusiveDocs Helps Accessible Banking

InclusiveDocs dives deeper into the field of accessibility by offering crucial financial information and equal management rights for everyone. The platform offers comprehensive and accessible digital inclusion applicable across various industries, including banking. The AI and manual remediation, including ML, can make each document accessible, starting from PDF, EPUB, HTML, gifs, links, videos, etc. 

The platform offers a screen reader mode, a classic mode, and a reflow mode, often used by people with vision impairments, blind people, and many industries such as digital publishing, education, health organizations, and governmental and legal authorities, i.e., for everyone that strives to be part of the digital inclusion. 

Final Thoughts

Investing in web accessibility for banking isn’t just about compliance; it’s a heartfelt commitment to enhancing customer experience, staying competitive, and ensuring digital inclusion for all. InclusiveDocs is a dedicated partner in fostering accessible digital communications, empowering financial institutions to create a seamless and equitable banking environment.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.