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Survey: Most Financial Services’ Digital Offerings Are Not Accessible to Persons With Disabilities

Survey: Most Financial Services’ Digital Offerings Are Not Accessible to Persons With Disabilities

With Market Gaps, Brand Reputation and Legal Threats Looming, Companies Must Take a More Decisive Approach

Deque Systems, a leading software company specializing in digital accessibility, announced the results of a survey showing that most financial services firms are not adequately ensuring that their websites, mobile sites and apps are accessible to people with disabilities.

The survey of financial services organizations, conducted by QA Vector® Research, suggests that these firms are not adequately prioritizing and implementing accessibility, which increases their legal risks while also hurting their ability to compete in a digital world.

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“Across industries, digital accessibility is shifting from a choice to a business imperative, and this is especially true in the financial services industry, given the high level of connectivity consumers demand to their personal finances,” says Preety Kumar, CEO, Deque Systems. “A lack of accessibility in financial services can be particularly damaging and costly from multiple perspectives including competitive market share, brand goodwill and legal risk.”

The survey found the following:

  • Only 35 percent of software leaders across various types of financial services firms (banks, insurers, asset managers and fintechs) say accessibility is among their top strategic concerns. Firms are either buying into the need for accessibility, or deprioritizing it.
  • Only 25 percent are embedding accessibility testing into software development processes. Attention to accessibility is often event-driven (sales, litigation, employee), but many firms struggle with knowing where to begin.
  • More than 70 percent of financial services firms indicate no clear ownership of digital accessibility within corporate governance. Broad familiarity with inclusivity is high, but accessibility is often orphaned or deprioritized.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of financial services firms have reliable or meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) for accessibility. However, mature firms are moving accessibility from an intermittent “diet” to a fuller “lifestyle” change with effective supporting tracking measures.

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Failure to pay attention to accessibility can have several negative ramifications. First, there’s the sheer market size to consider –approximately one in five people in the United States, or 64 million, have some form of disability.

There is also potential brand damage to consider, with consumers’ decisions on with whom they choose to conduct business increasingly influenced by social justice causes. Inaccessible digital properties may translate to legal risks, with ADA data showing that accessibility-related lawsuits exploded by 181 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“Most financial services firms would never think to take away accommodations for persons with disabilities in their physical operations. But that’s exactly what they’re doing when their digital properties aren’t accessible; it’s the equivalent of hanging a sign outside your door saying ‘closed for business’ to millions of people,” continues Kumar. “Many firms erroneously believe achieving digital accessibility is too costly and time-consuming, when in fact, it is much less expensive and laborious to embed inclusivity at the outset of the development effort.”

“While compliance may be an underlying reason for starting an accessibility journey, that likely won’t internally motivate someone and may not lead to lasting change,” says Bryan Osterkamp, Technical Architect Principal at USAA. “You want to change the culture of the organization and how they think of accessibility. Showing how a blind user is now able to use your mobile app – and not an inaccessible competitor’s app – is a good example.”

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