The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed over 30 years ago (in 1990) to protect those from disabilities from being discriminated against in schools, workplaces, and any space that offers goods/services to the public. Over time, more laws and guidelines have been implemented to ensure that disabled people of all ages have the best chances to access what able-bodied people can. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sprang from this in 1999 and is continually updated to make the guidelines clearer.
COVID-19 and Why Businesses (Including Banks) Should Increase Accessibility
Many businesses were closed or encouraged remote work as a result of the pandemic. A Gallup poll that was conducted in January 2021 shared that 56% of US workers were working remotely all or part of the time. Compared to the 17% who worked from home prior to the pandemic according to Statista, that was a huge shift in the amount of work being done from home.
Statista found that 67% of employers saw increased spending on web conferencing software. Because of this, there were many accessibility issues that came to light for disabled Internet users. Additionally, a Gartner survey revealed that 74% of employers plan to shift some employees to remote permanently post-pandemic, so the need for accessible web content stands. The main focuses for the newest update of WCAG requirements (version 2.2) include more accessibility for those with low vision, who use mobile devices, and those with cognitive impairments.
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Why Banks Should Focus on Website Accessibility
Before we dive into the latest WCAG updates, let’s talk briefly about why banks should focus on web accessibility for their customers. Banking is an industry that is needed across the board for those over the age of 18 (and for minors, whose parents open joint accounts in their name). The more accessible and user-friendly your banking website is, the better experience users will have. Customer satisfaction is extremely important, and with the popularity of online banking, it is vital that banks have the most user-friendly tools available for every customer. Fraud prevention is important (GlobalSign stated that banks lose more than $1 trillion annually to cybercrime) but there are steps that can be taken to increase accessibility for customers.
WCAG 2.2 Guidelines: 9 New Criteria
First, for those who are unfamiliar with WCAG (which stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), each guideline has its own conformance level. A-ranked guidelines are the lowest levels of conformance required to meet the basic needs of different groups and situations, whereas AAA is the highest level of conformance required. It is recommended that every website aims for AA compliance. If any of these guidelines are confusing, we’ve linked some websites that provide helpful visuals for each category. These WCAG 2.2 guidelines will be published as a recommendation by July 2021.
2.4.11 Focus Appearance (Minimum) AA and 2.4.12 Focus Appearance (Enhanced) AAA
Both of these refer to user interaction focus indicators. They should be of sufficient size and contrast and must be unobscured by other content. Focus indicators can be border outlines (dotted or solid), can be a glowing effect, or involve shadows. The new criteria set requirements to make them clearly distinguishable from the background. The previous guideline established the need for focus indicators, but this goes one step further, ensuring that it’s distinguishable and easy to identify. This is also important for those on mobile devices since it can be more difficult to tell. An outline that is four pixels thick at 22 luminance would pass at level AAA.
2.4.13 Fixed Reference Points A
If you look at a paper or a book online, it should have the same reference points (or page numbers) to navigate as the print versions do. This allows people to locate, in digital publications, the same reference from the print version. It also allows for document consistency regardless of form factor. For example, if you find a resource on a desktop, it should have the same page breaks and numbers as if you are looking it up on a mobile device.
2.5.7 Dragging Movements AA
There are many designs that require dragging movements (such as reordering lists). Any functionality that uses dragging movements must be able to be operated by another single-point means. This means that a single click or path should be able to perform the same function as a dragging movement would. For a click-and-drag list, this would look like the ability to highlight the item you want to move and use a button to confirm the new position. For a slider that requires a click-drag, make sure there’s an arrow key that someone can click to scroll up or down.
2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) AA
This requires a minimum height and width of 24x24 pixels for non-text interaction targets. These can be buttons, text fields, dropdown lists. In this case, it can also include a 20-pixel item with a 4-pixel space in-between. This allows those with bigger fingers to access touch targets more easily.
3.2.6 Findable Help A
Human contact details, mechanisms, self-help options, and fully automated contact mechanisms should be included in the same relative order on each page. The area where the help link is available should remain consistent throughout all web pages (if it’s in the footer, ensure it’s always there).
3.2.7 Visible Controls AA
The controls required to complete a process should be available by default, without requiring actions to be taken (like a mouse-over). For example, some computers show the dock only after you scroll over it, and some websites may hide and show the toolbar for an application. If a hidden control is needed to progress in a process, this should be persistently visible. Those who have cognitive disabilities may be prevented from completing a process otherwise. It doesn’t need to exist that way as a default, but there should be a function available that users can turn on to have persistent access to previously hidden controls.
3.3.7 Accessible Authentication A
If authentication processes rely on a cognitive function test, at least one other method should also be available. The most obvious application of this would be to include other forms of authentication rather than creating passwords with multiple requirements. Trying to fulfill all the obligations can be difficult for those with cognitive impairments (perception processing limitations), and for those with memory issues, it can be more difficult to remember. Examples of other methods of authentication include the ability to use a code sent to your phone to authenticate, or using more familiar passwords (logging in with Google). Doing this prevents the error loop frustration that commonly can occur for those who forget passwords.
3.3.8 Redundant Entry A
For steps in a process, information previously entered by the user and required on subsequent steps should be auto-populated or available for the user to select. For example, if you’re making an online purchase and filled out the shipping address, then have to provide billing address information, you should be able to select a button that says, “Same as shipping address”.
That was a lot! The good news is if you’re interested in addressing accessibility for your banking website here at WSI Digital, we have a number of accessibility solutions available to our customers. Our “go-to” solution is our long-standing partnership with AudioEye, which specializes in creating solutions for digital accessibility. We can help you improve your website with better web design and top-notch analytics that allow you to see exactly what you can improve upon. Our techniques consistently result in higher revenues for our customers. Contact us today to learn more!
BONUS: 90-Day Website Accessibility Checklist!
Fill out the form below for our 90-Day Website Accessibility Checklist! This checklist will help guide you through the key milestones and steps you need to take over the next 90 days to improve the accessibility of your website and help better protect your bank from any usability complaints. This checklist is by no means a legal document of any kind but a guide to get you started on your web accessibility journey!