The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) strives to ensure that individuals with disabilities do not get denied full participation or full benefits nor face discrimination by businesses. In an increasingly digital age where technology is constantly evolving, law such as the ADA must also adapt which can present compliance issues for individuals, businesses, and most certainly: banks. Most banks today have a website to ensure an efficient and user-friendly customer experience using the latest technology available. The ADA also applies to business websites, but there has been little official guidance as to the website compliance standards, subjecting banks to potential legal and reputational risks. Compliance Alliance in its efforts to guide banks on this issue published a Website Accessibility Checklist based on recent Department of Justice actions. However, on October 2, 2020, Congressmen Ted Budd (R-NC) and Lou Correa (D-CA) introduced the Online Accessibility Act to help businesses make their websites ADA compliant by establishing national standards.
At its outset, the bill aims to answer the longstanding question for businesses and banks when it comes to making their websites ADA compliant: what is the standard? If this bill becomes law, the standard becomes attaining Level A and Level AA compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) established by the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. If a website does not meet WCAG standards, then the business that owns it must provide alternative means of access for individuals with disabilities equivalent to the content available on its website. So, what exactly are these standards and how can banks make sure their websites conform to them? Fortunately, our Website Accessibility Checklist for banks as discussed earlier covers these standards.
Our checklist goes through lists of possible solutions for you to meet web guidelines. One pillar of the guidelines is to provide text alternatives for all non-text content. For example, functional images or other interactive elements on your website should have text alternatives that state the element’s purpose. In providing alternatives for multimedia aspects, you can provide a text transcript of any non-live, web-based audio you have on your website. The guidelines also require you provide input assistance in helping users avoid and correct mistakes. Here, providing labels, instructions, and even examples are crucial when content requires users to input information and they be properly positioned on a page to provide the most clarity. When an input error occurs, it may be good practice to have your website provide suggestions to fix the error in a timely manner.
While the bill also aims to reduce litigation due to a business’s website, a key takeaway is that the WCAG our checklist goes through would transform from suggestive guidelines to required law for ADA website compliance, providing clarity as to how banks should approach this issue. In the meantime, consider working through our checklist for each guideline and implementing solutions to make your sites more accessible. As technology advances, law and compliance must always adapt.