Website Accessibility in Financial Services

During these unprecedented times when most of the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, we should not forget about a large section of our community who experience disabilities. Website accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web effectively.     

With that in mind, web services and applications being developed and implemented should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  WCAG was issued with four principles that remain at the heart of accessibility strategies: an application must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.  

Some of the key features that need to be considered are:  

  1. Pre-recorded and live video with audio content should have subtitles or captions so that hearing–challenged people can understand the information as well as the sound effects.  
  2. Audio content should have an associated text transcript as this is helpful to people who cannot use sound for whatever reason.  
  3. Images should contain descriptive text so people who are visually impaired can get an appropriate description of the image. Images that serve a structural or navigation purpose also require text.  
  4. Text should be resizable or “magnifiable without disrupting the page display or flow.   
  5. All form-entry tasks should allow for an extended or lengthy entry limit.  
  6. Components that exist across multiple web pages, such as navigation, headers, footers, and sidebars should appear consistently in the same places across the website. For example, a sidebar should not change from left to right depending on the page. The navigation should not go from being anchored at the top to appearing on the side.  
  7. Website navigation should be possible without the use of a mouse as a user should be able to use the “tab” button on a keyboard to progress through any page.  
  8. All web pages should use proper heading level structure so that users with screen readers can easily navigate the website.  

Unfortunately, research indicates that there are still many obstacles that prevent people with disabilities from effectively using asset management and other financial services websites. 

A survey published in First Monday, a peer-reviewed journal about the Internet, found that many people with disabilities are frustrated by the online barriers in financial services.   

The authors analysed survey responses from the visually impaired people and concluded that “Web and app accessibility for banking and finance is clearly far from where it needs to be, as was obvious by the high percentage of respondents noting accessibility problems.”  

An example on a banking website was that customers had to use a mouse to click selections, which is not possible for people with vision impairments.   

In this specific example, the website designer included buttons that lacked text labels, so the screen reader was unable to read them aloud.   

Problems such as these meant that the only way customers could conduct their personal banking or investments online was with the assistance of sighted people. This was an unacceptable privacy compromise for many of the respondents.  

By developing a dedicated Accessibility FAQ web page explaining the ways your company supports the needs of people with disabilities such as removing online obstacles, offering customised products and services should generate good will and enhance the reputation of your company.   

Verifying that your company’s website is accessible by using a tool such as Web Accessibility should be a high priority.  

In conclusion, making your company’s website accessible is the right thing to do.