- Digital accessibility gains in importance as more customers move to online banking
- COVID-19 speeds industry’s move to digital, unwittingly leaving some consumers behind
Texthelp, a global leader in literacy and accessibility technology, released a new industry report.
The report, Accessibility in Financial Services: The key to serving everyone, is a call to action for financial services companies to improve digital accessibility. Texthelp CEO, Martin McKay, along with accessibility expert Debra Ruh, CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, authored the paper.
The U.S. finance industry serves millions of people every day. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, banking services moved online and many banks limited their hours of operation. This digital push provided convenience for most people as well as a secure way to conduct business.
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Yet, digital banking and the need to go online to find important financial information can be a big problem for millions of people. For those with vision loss, language barriers, and learning disabilities, lack of digital accessibility is an issue. Great progress has been made over the past decade to improve physical accessibility in the finance industry. However, the same cannot be said for digital accessibility. It still lags and many people are being left behind.
Every financial institution is legally obligated to address accessibility. In the U.S., the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 are considered to provide an acceptable level of accessibility and are cited in many ADA rulings. Meeting these guidelines can help you make sure financial organizations are prioritizing inclusion and meeting legal obligations.
“Digital accessibility is one of the most important areas of the digital experience, opening the doors to greater understanding, greater market reach, and enhanced inclusivity,” said Debra Ruh. “By not meeting these guidelines, many banks are leaving customers behind.”
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As part of the research that went into the report, Texthelp conducted a review of 30 of the top 50 U.S. national and community bank websites. The list of banks was based on revenue. Using its ReachDeck product, Texthelp scanned each bank’s site for readability and accessibility. One key takeaway was that none of the banks scanned met full WCAG compliance.
Beyond technical accessibility, readability was also highlighted as an issue. The review found the average reading age of a bank website to be 19 years old, or at college level. The average reading age in the U.S. is between 12 and 14 years old. This means the average visitor to these bank websites will likely find it difficult to understand their information.
“Financial services organizations need to take action. Digital accessibility must be improved to make sure all people can access financial services online,” said Texthelp’s McKay. “We created ReachDeck to ensure that website accessibility was within reach for all banks and consumer-facing enterprises. We want to raise awareness of the critical importance of digital accessibility, especially in financial services. Digital accessibility is achievable, but it requires a commitment.”
“ReachDeck supports ongoing compliance by providing an easy-to-use tool for accessibility monitoring and maintenance. It also helps organizations to write in a way that’s easier to understand. It allows them to look beyond compliance, and truly focus on their audience,” added McKay.
The accessibility report includes more findings from Texthelp’s bank website review. It gives an overview of digital accessibility and also explains the accessibility guidelines, why accessibility is good for business, and what financial institutions can do to achieve online inclusion.
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