Web accessibility is an important issue for all types of websites. But meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines may be more critical for financial institutions than most other industries. When a financial institution does not meet WCAG guidelines, it limits the ability of visually impaired customers to manage their finances with the same convenience level as other customers. This can be particularly challenging when a customer’s visual impairment also limits their ability to visit branches. Aside from the legal risks of not meeting web accessibility standards, there is also a risk to the brands that are not prepared.
Extractable analyzed the homepages of the top 50 financial institutions in the United States for WCAG AA compliance and found that only 15% achieved high levels of compliance. More than half of these financial institutions didn’t meet the basic levels of compliance.
A little effort goes along way
For the majority of these sites, the common errors generated are actually easily fixable. These sites failed in the following areas:
- They did not put alternate text descriptions for images and videos
- They did not present clear navigation paths (i.e. tab sequence)
- They did not offer designs/styles that make text easily distinguishable
- They did not test their homepages on brail readers
Compliance and Governance
Once a site is updated to meet WCAG compliance, maintaining that level of compliance becomes easy as long as the Web Content Management (WCM) is doing its part.
To meet WCAG compliance consistently, we recommend using the workflow/publishing features of the content management system. This platform should (1) require that site owners to enter fields such as text descriptions and tab orders and (2) require testing for WCAG compliance as a part of page publishing.
Voice Recognition may be a game changer
As organizations such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are paving new paths with Voice Recognition capabilities in modern browsers, financial institutions should be adapting this technology to provide a superior experience for visually impaired customers. Voice based and natural language navigation of websites and mobile applications will provide a new method for visitors of all walks of life to request content and data.
As our lives become more and more digital, it is important that our financial institutions are prepared to meet the requirements of customers with special needs. WCAG guidelines offer an excellent and achievable method for providing the right content and functionality for all visitors while demonstrating a caring brand.