Imagine this scenario: It’s a Tuesday afternoon and your compliance officer walks into your office and hands you a letter from a law firm. The law firm is seeking settlement on behalf of a client citing barriers to access to your internet-banking services. “Is our website ADA-compliant?” your compliance officer asks. You skim over the letter in your hands – you see terms like “WCAG Compliance Failures” and “Accessibility Guidelines.”
“Is our site ADA-compliant?” you say. “I … don’t know.”
Let’s back up a bit – you’re probably already familiar with the term “ADA compliance.” ADA references the Americans with Disabilities Act, and your bank has likely been working for decades so that your branches are safe, accessible and compliant, protecting the rights of all of your customers to access your products and services.
As the trend toward online and mobile banking tools continues, it’s understandable that the same care provided to make sure your customers can bank in your branches should be extended to ensure they can access your internet-based channels.
For a long time, websites were created with little thought to possible barriers of access. Back in the day, your website was likely just one more tool in your marketing arsenal. We all know that thinking has changed – and now the guidelines are changing too.
So what does this mean?
For most organizations, it means that you’re going to have to compare every nook and cranny of your website to the accessibility guidelines to make sure that your site is accessible to all of your customers.
The website accessibility guidelines set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international website standards organization, are being recognized as the baseline for accessibility and as of April 2018 your website is expected to adhere to these guidelines. These guidelines cover a huge range of topics: your font, any time-based media, alternate text data, navigation, and so on.
Better put your auditing hat on
You’re probably looking at a full site audit. Every page, every link, every image tag. Are your videos captioned or have you provided transcripts? Can you move through your site without using a mouse? Are there any strobe-like flashing graphics? Is your font big enough? Is there enough contrast in the colors on your site?
And the list goes on.
This endeavor is a very important one, even if you’re not sitting at your desk with a letter from an attorney in your hand. Ensuring that all of your customers have access to all of the tools you offer should always be your goal and the fact that this requirement is on the horizon is a good thing. Will it require some work to get up to compliance? For most websites, it absolutely will.
Let us give you a hand
On top of wanting all of your customers to have a smooth banking experience, fact of the matter is, no one wants a letter from a law office detailing all of the ways your website presented hurdles for your customers. It’s best to come up with a plan now – to be proactive rather than reactive (and your compliance department will thank you for that).
There are two ways to cross this finish line:
1. Bring your existing site up to standard
If a new site isn’t in the cards for now, at the minimum you’ll need to retrofit your existing site to meet the requirements. The lists we’ve seen have been a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! Give us a call if you’d like us to send you some helpful information which includes compliance guidelines as well as procedures you can put in place to ensure better compliance with the guidelines moving forward.
Keep in mind, though the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set forth by the W3C are considered the standard to which websites should adhere, it is important to note that some guidelines appear to be subject to interpretation, particularly via automated auditing tools, and it is possible for one audit to detect areas for improvement that another did not. For your site audit, we would advise utilizing manual and use case testing in combination with any automated tool you might use.
2. You wanted a spiffy new website anyway
If you’ve been considering a website redesign, 2017 may be the year to add that to your plan. Why? Many of the guidelines outlined are tenets of strong website design and search engine optimization best practices. While in the process of creating an updated look to your online platform you can incorporate the guidelines into your design so that the end result is a beautiful, customer-friendly website that is ADA compliant.
Not sure where to start? Give us a call. Whether you’re looking at redesigning your site or kicking off an audit, our team can work with you to ensure your website serves as a beneficial tool for all of your customers – helpful, accessible, and compliant.