Every day, millions of Americans are served by the finance industry. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began, many banks began offering online banking services and limiting hours of operation. The digital push provided convenience as well as security for most people.
Millions of people, however, struggle with digital banking and accessing financial information online. Lack of digital accessibility is a problem for people with vision loss, language barriers, and learning disabilities. Since the 1990s, financial sector accessibility has greatly improved. Digital accessibility, on the other hand, is not as accessible. It still lags behind and many people are left behind.
Global technology company Texthelp‘s new report, “Accessibility in Financial Services: The key to serving everyone”, identifies these gaps and is a call to action for financial services companies to improve digital accessibility. This paper was written by Martin McKay, Founder, and CEO, Texthelp, along with accessibility expert Debra Ruh, CEO and Founder, Ruh Global IMPACT.
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. By not meeting these guidelines, many banks are leaving customers behind. – Debra Ruh, CEO-Founder, Ruh Global IMPACT
Financial institutions are legally required to make accessibility a priority. Businesses in the US are required to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many ADA rulings cite the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG) for providing an acceptable level of accessibility. Following these guidelines can help ensure financial institutions are prioritizing inclusion and meeting their legal obligations.
This report was based on a review of 30 of the top 50 websites of US national and community banks. Based on revenue, banks were listed. With its ReachDeck® product, Texthelp scanned each bank’s website for readability and accessibility. The major takeaway was that none of the banks scanned met full WCAG compliance.
In addition to technical accessibility, readability was also cited as a concern. Review findings determined that 19-year-olds read most bank websites and most are college students. Reading age in the US is around 12 to 14 years old. This means that the average person visiting these banks’ websites will probably find it difficult to understand their information.
“Financial services organizations need to take action”, said Texthelp’s McKay. “Digital accessibility must be improved to make sure all people can access financial services online. 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.”
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.