Canada’s Trusted Accessibility Experts

Disabled-Friendly Online Banking: How To Make It Work

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Over the years, the financial industry has adapted to the convenience of online banking. It has become an essential service that provides loans, checking and savings accounts, and investment opportunities that millions of people rely on at the click of a button.

However, as banks begin to drive traffic to their websites and mobile apps instead of their branch locations, it’s creating a challenge for disabled customers to use these new services. 

As society continues to rely on banking s ervices, web accessibility, as well as mobile accessibility, must include features that enable people with disabilities to perform banking tasks independently and with ease.

Why is online accessibility important for banks?

stock data in phone

Online accessibility is crucial for banks. Not only is it required by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), but it also helps them meet the needs of all their customers, including those with disabilities. 

The bank has a responsibility to ensure its financial service provider is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. By ensuring accessible banking services, banks benefit from the following:

  • They avoid costly accessibility lawsuits, and reputational and business risks.  
  • They improve their reputation as an inclusive organization and increase customer loyalty—an important business quality in today’s society. 
  • They reach a broader customer base, including people with disabilities who may not have used their services before.

What steps can banks take to improve their web and mobile app accessibility?

As more people use online banking services, there is a growing demand for digital accessibility features, such as:

  • Keyboard accessibility 
  • Accessible hyperlinks
  • Consecutive heading structures

Banks are beginning to recognize this need and are taking steps to make their services more accessible. By offering features that cater to the needs of people with disabilities, banks can enhance the user experience and reduce the communication barriers between them and their customers.

How to make online banking accessible

online banking graph

1. Provide alternative tags for images. 

Alternative tags (or “alt tags”) provide a description of images on a web page, making it easier for people with visual impairments to understand the content. 

Alt tags must be descriptive and convey the meaning of the image. For example, an image of a graph should have an alt tag that describes the information being conveyed, such as “Sales figures for Q1 2023.”

2. Make sure the website is keyboard-friendly. 

Following WCAG’s standards of accessibility, banking websites must include key features that allow people with disabilities to do their banking online with ease.

For instance, people with motor disabilities may find it difficult to use a mouse, so it’s important that the website can be navigated using only a keyboard. This means the bank must ensure that all functions can be accessed using the tab and arrow keys. It’s also essential to ensure that the keyboard focus is visible so that users can easily see where they are on the screen.

3. Provide audio and video transcripts. 

Audio and video transcripts are essential for people with hearing impairments or those who use assistive technology to access the content. 

Transcripts should provide a word-for-word description of the audio or video content and be displayed in a format that can be easily accessed, such as a text document.

4. Use high-contrast colours. 

High-contrast colours are essential for people with visual impairments. The contrast between the text and background should be significant, making it easier to read the content. 

Colours should be chosen carefully to ensure they meet accessibility guidelines and are easy to distinguish. WCAG provides a detailed colour contrast guideline you can review. 

5. Provide text resizing options. 

People with visual impairments may find it difficult to read small text. 

Providing text resizing options enables users to adjust the font size to their individual needs. This can be done by providing a button or slider that allows users to adjust the font size easily.

What is the future of accessible banking services?

The future of banking is moving towards greater accessibility, which provides the same user experience for disabled customers that customers without disabilities receive. 

1. Banks can improve accessibility by evolving with technology.

man watching phone

Voice recognition technology, for example, is becoming more prevalent in online banking. It enables customers to perform banking tasks verbally, making it easier for people with visual or physical impairments to use the service. 

Additionally, banks are developing mobile apps that are designed for people with disabilities, such as those with hearing or cognitive impairments. These apps provide features such as high-contrast settings, adjustable font sizes, and text-to-speech options.

2. Banks can improve digital accessibility with the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital accessibility with the use of artificial intelligence

Another trend that is becoming more prevalent in the banking industry is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Accessible banking customer service powered by AI chatbots can help customers with disabilities access services more easily. 

By providing a conversational interface, customers can interact with the chatbot using natural language as well as get the information they need without navigating complex menus or web pages. This comes in handy for those that rely on assistive technology—like a screen reader—to communicate back and forth with customer service. The simpler the chatbot’s interface, the quicker and more efficiently the screen reader can relay the message to the user. 

Create a banking experience that’s accessible to everyone, even those with disabilities.

group photo

As banks begin to evolve with technology, online banking moves towards greater accessibility.

We see this transition reflected in their platform’s user experience as they include accessibility features in the initial framework. By doing so, they’re improving their reputation, reaching a broader customer base, and avoiding costly lawsuits down the road. 

By following the practical tips provided above, banks can improve their services, making them disabled-friendly and accessible to everyone.

Accessibility Partners can run an accessibility assessment to ensure your online banking services are providing equal opportunity to those with disabilities. Click the link below for a consultation. Contact Accessibility Partners

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