In the past several months, I have had banking clients mention that they have received letters from law firms ‘challenging’ their websites’ compliance with the Department of Justice’s Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. These letters claim that the bank websites are not accessible to the blind.
There are software products available that can read aloud the text on websites. This software provides internet users with a spoken version of text or describes a visual medium. However, some website designs are not compatible with software applications and do not allow that verbal translation to occur. Hence, that is the issue, or at least one of the issues being cited in the letters that I have seen.
A quick Google search for “software that reads websites” provides several applications to choose from. Many of these alternatives are free, or have a trial version available at no charge. It might be well worth the effort to download a few of these trial applications and try them on your bank’s website before your bank receives a letter from a law firm with the same type of ‘challenge’ that my clients have received. Be aware that this ‘challenge’ has the real possibility of becoming expensive.
The possibility of receiving a letter regarding ADA compliance and your website requires your immediate attention and is very important.
The Wall Street Journal published an article by Sara Randazzo on November 1, “Companies Face Lawsuits Over Website Accessibility for Blind Users“ (link below). According to this WSJ article, more than 240 businesses have been sued since January 2015 in the United States. Since 1990, public businesses must be accessible under the ADA, however, websites weren’t expressly included in the law as a “place of public accommodation.” The article goes on to say that, “litigation points to a real issue: making sure those with disabilities have the same freedom to enjoy the internet as everyone else.” Most of these cases were settled for between $10,000 and $25,000 in federal court.
Another recent article of interest is from the Penn Record, “Recent Wave of Pittsburgh Disability Lawsuits Threatens Company Websites,” by Vimbai Chikomo (link below). There may be other reasons as to why your bank’s website may need revisions that relate to fintech. I will discuss this topic in the coming weeks.