Whether it’s checking account balances, tracking transactions, transferring funds or paying bills, people are using on-line banking more than ever. This digital migration is only growing with banks closing thousands of brick-and-mortar locations across the country as more people appreciate the convenience of online banking.
For the approximately 61 million people with some form of disability in the U.S., banks and financial institutions must ensure their digital platforms are all Section 508 and ADA compliant as web accessibility is critical for people with disabilities to use these services.
Failure to provide access to websites, apps and online documents, such as forms and PDFs, can lead to litigation – a trend that is consistently rising. An accessible banking and finance website ensures that everyone has equal access. With spiking lawsuits, it’s crucial for banks and financial institutions to draw up accessibility plans.
Online services and apps should follow the technical requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 to ensure that people with various disabilities can use these platforms. Unfortunately, very few banks and financial institutions have worked to ensure their digital properties are accessible, preventing people with disabilities from banking.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, banks and other businesses were restricted or shut down as customers were urged to stay home. While the lockdowns are mercifully behind us, the push to do more things online is here to stay.
In the financial industry, the number of interactive websites and mobile applications for customers is increasing. This increase in online services has led to an increase in lawsuits against banks and financial institutions as well as placing a spotlight on the non-accessible issues that plague digital platforms.
The need to be accessible is not going away and every bank and financial institution must put a plan in place to get their digital properties accessible.
Web accessibility lawsuits are skyrocketing, forcing thousands of businesses to work toward becoming accessible. It is not a simple process, and it takes time. However, the longer a website or app is non-accessible, the more exposed it becomes for a lawsuit. And few sectors have a higher exposure rate than the banking and finance industry.
Banks are “places of public accommodation” and are therefore covered under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Financial institutions are required to ensure that people with disabilities can use their services.
The best way to avoid such lawsuits is to get proactive and get your website accessible. Too many businesses hesitate to do so and get sued. Why not cut out the costly judgements and legal fees and get your apps and websites accessible?
Banks and financial institutions have incredibly stringent accessibility requirements. If you are working with the Federal Government or any organization that receives government funding, you will need to get a VPAT for all of your digital properties. Whether that is your website, mobile app, or customer portal, they all must have a VPAT, documenting their accessibility. The best work edition of a VPAT, which gives you the most coverage is the VPAT 2.4 International Edition.
What does VPAT stand for you may ask? VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template VPAT. It is a form that documents your accessibility. VPAT testing can be a great way to ensure accessibility of your digital properties.
Removing digital barriers can not only save a financial institution from costly penalties and time-consuming legal responses, but also creates savings and profits in other ways.
When people with disabilities enjoy a seamless digital experience with a financial institution, they’re more likely to approach that same institution for other products and services – such as mortgages, insurance and retirement savings plans.
People with disabilities have over $200 billion in discretionary spending. They also influence the spending of their families and friends. When an institution invests in accessibility, this investment is certain to pay dividends.
The best way to gain a complete understanding of how accessible your digital properties are and make sure that all the accessibility issues are addressed is to hire an expert who uses both automated and manual accessibility testing.
It’s unfortunate that many companies, keen to get into the ADA market as lawsuit threats continue to grow, tout automated software scans as a comprehensive solution when the AI is only capable of catching approximately 30% of non-compliant issues. In order to truly ensure ADA compliance, you must include a live audit, in which a trained technician tests your website for all the requirements.
Trained accessibility consultants can provide the guidance that companies need to find all conformance issues and create appropriate remediation strategies. A thorough analysis should include both manual and automated testing.