Transforming Accessibility in the Banking Sector

In today's digital age, accessibility is no longer just a courtesy, but a necessity. This case study explores how the second-leading bank in America partnered with Pivotal Accessibility to ensure that all customers, including those with disabilities, can fully engage with their online services. Pivotal Accessibility offers tailored solutions, including audits, automated and manual testing, and user feedback, resulting in detailed roadmaps for improvement. The positive impact is increased customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, ultimately shaping a more inclusive future for digital banking.

The Challenge of Accessibility in the Banking Domain

As the banking sector continues to digitize its services, it simultaneously faces a significant challenge: making sure that these digital services are accessible to everyone. While modern banking technologies offer convenience, they can also present barriers for individuals with disabilities. This challenge is particularly prevalent in web and mobile banking platforms, where tasks like checking account balances, transferring funds, and paying bills often require online access.

Accessibility is not a luxury but a necessity. Imagine a customer with a visual impairment attempting to use a banking app that lacks proper screen reader compatibility. Or a person with motor disabilities struggling with an online form that is not keyboard-navigable. These scenarios represent just a fraction of the difficulties individuals with disabilities can encounter when accessing banking services online.

Pivotal Accessibility: Bridging the Accessibility Gap

Recognizing the urgency of the issue, Pivotal Accessibility has been on a mission to bridge the accessibility gap. The company offers a comprehensive suite of accessibility services tailored to the banking domain.

They have helped banks identify accessibility issues in their websites and apps, providing thorough audits and reports. This meticulous process involves a combination of automated testing, manual evaluation, and simulated user testing. The end result is a detailed roadmap for making necessary improvements.

Accessibility in banking extends beyond screen readers and keyboard navigation. Pivotal Accessibility has also addressed the importance of clear and concise content. They've encouraged banks to adopt plain language guidelines, making information more understandable for all customers. This inclusive approach benefits not only those with disabilities but also non-native English speakers, older adults, and individuals with situational or accidental disabilities.

The Accessibility Issues Faced by the Bank

A leading bank in America confronted several accessibility challenges within its digital platforms. These issues posed significant barriers for customers with disabilities, hindering their online banking experience. Some of the key problems they encountered included:

Accessibility Issues for Vision Users

  1. Incorrect Color Contrast: The bank's digital assets lacked the necessary contrast between text and background, making it challenging for users with visual impairments to read and navigate the content.
  2. Information Conveyed Solely Via Color: Some of the information was conveyed only through color. This hindered colorblind users from accessing their website.

Accessibility Issues with Keyboard Access

  1. Keyboard interaction: There were problems with the keyboard accessibility of the bank’s website. Specifically, some interactive elements on the page could not receive keyboard focus, and others were not triggerable using the keyboard.
  2. Unpredictable Keyboard Navigation: Keyboard users experienced inconsistent behavior when navigating web applications, where the focus moved unexpectedly. As a result, it confused and disoriented users, undermining their ability to complete tasks.
  3. Focus indicators: The absence of focus indicators on interactive elements, especially during keyboard navigation, confused users, impairing their understanding of focus location and impeding effective interaction.
  4. Elements without role and label: Elements without role and label made it difficult for screen reader users to understand its purpose. Since elements like buttons, links, and form fields are the major elements to complete most tasks, this became a critical issue.

Accessibility Issues with Screen Reader Users

Certain web content was not correctly interpreted by screen reader software, further isolating users who rely on these assistive technologies. There was also an absence of list tags that made it hard for them to comprehend and navigate lists of information.

Accessibility Issues With Forms

Filling out forms is one of the most important parts of any banking experience. The bank’s forms had accessibility issues relating to:
  1. Forms lacked clear instructions to complete them.
  2. The entire form could not be completed using only the keyboard.
  3. There were also unclear error messages at certain places.

How Pivotal Accessibility Helped to Overcome These Challenges

In response to these accessibility issues, the bank proactively sought assistance from Pivotal Accessibility, a renowned web accessibility solutions provider. Pivotal Accessibility conducted a thorough audit using automated and manual testing, identifying the critical accessibility shortcomings, and providing recommendations for the same. The solutions provided by Pivotal Accessibility included:

Addressed Visual Accessibility Issues:

Pivotal Accessibility recommended improvements in text and background color contrast to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, along with remediating other visual issues. These adjustments significantly enhanced readability for individuals with visual impairments.

Enhanced Screen Reader Compatibility:

Pivotal Accessibility collaborated with the bank to ensure that all web content was accurately interpreted by screen readers, offering a seamless experience for users who rely on these tools.

Improved Page Structure and Content:

Pivotal Accessibility's recommendations led to the correct tagging of headings, providing clarity and structure to web content. They also simplified the content for easier comprehension by users with intellectual disabilities.

Helped Make Forms and Documents Accessible:

The team at Pivotal Accessibility paid special attention to the Bank’s documents and forms, ensuring that they did not hinder users with disabilities.

Provided Training and Support:

Pivotal Accessibility provided training and continuous support to web administrators and developers so that they could maintain the accessibility standards in the future.

By embracing Pivotal Accessibility's solutions and adhering to their recommendations, the bank significantly improved its web accessibility. This transformation reinforced the bank's commitment to inclusivity, ensuring that all customers, regardless of their abilities, could enjoy a more accessible and user-friendly digital banking experience.

The Ripple Effect of Benefits

The partnership between Pivotal Accessibility and the bank in the journey towards accessibility benefitted the bank in many other ways as well:

1. Enhanced Customer Experience

With the accessibility barriers removed, customers with disabilities could access banking services seamlessly. The user experience was significantly improved, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

3. Competitive Advantage

Banks that embraced accessibility found themselves at a competitive advantage. They were recognized as pioneers in inclusivity, which boosted their brand image.

2. Expanded Customer Base

Accessibility is not merely about compliance; it's about tapping into an underserved market. The bank found that its customer base expanded as it became known for its inclusive services.

4. Compliance and Legal Protection

By adopting these accessibility standards, the bank ensured compliance with various regulations and reduced the risk of potential legal issues.

1. Enhanced Customer Experience

With the accessibility barriers removed, customers with disabilities could access banking services seamlessly. The user experience was significantly improved, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

2. Expanded Customer Base

Accessibility is not merely about compliance; it's about tapping into an underserved market. The bank found that its customer base expanded as it became known for its inclusive services.

3. Competitive Advantage

Banks that embraced accessibility found themselves at a competitive advantage. They were recognized as pioneers in inclusivity, which boosted their brand image.

4. Compliance and Legal Protection

By adopting these accessibility standards, the bank ensured compliance with various regulations and reduced the risk of potential legal issues.

Conclusion

Pivotal Accessibility’s expertise in accessibility provided the client bank with a detailed roadmap to make its digital assets accessible to everyone. Since accessibility is an ongoing process, they also provide them with continuous support at regular intervals. The Pivotal Accessibility team performs manual and automatic tests like smoke and sanity testing to keep the website accessible. Apart from making the digital assets accessible, the team also trained the Bank’s stakeholders including designers, writers, managers, etc. to develop an understanding of digital accessibility.

By partnering with Pivotal Accessibility, a leading bank in America overcome accessibility challenges, creating a more inclusive and user-friendly digital banking experience. Banks like these serve as beacons of positive change, setting an example for the industry, and driving the banking sector toward a more accessible and inclusive future.