People with compromised visual, auditory, cognitive, speech, or physical abilities often have difficulty accessing information on the internet. This lack of access occurs because many websites still don't efficiently support the use of assistive technology. The banking industry, despite its growing and important online presence, is contributing to the gap in access.
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA) identified the top 15 highest-trafficked banking websites and has researched them to provide a lens into overall web accessibility within the banking industry. The research was based on the results of an automated scan performed on each bank’s site. This scan, BoIA’s A11Y® Platform, was built to identify issues based on the international standards for testing website accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 A/AA.
WCAG 2.0 A/AA consists of 38 checkpoints within four main categories, or Principles, which create the foundation necessary for all users to access and use web content equally:
Principle 1: Perceivable
The website’s information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented, and that it can't be invisible to all of their senses. Across the banks, the failure rate based on this principle was 37%.
The most common issue under this principle was checkpoint 1.1.1, which requires all non-text content presented to the user to have text alternatives that serve the equivalent purpose.
Principle 2: Operable
User interface components and navigation must be operable, meaning that the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform. Across the banks, the failure rate based on this principle was 67%.
The most common issue under this principle was checkpoint 2.1.1, which requires content to be operable through a keyboard or keyboard interface, so an alternate keyboard can be used.
Content and navigation that can be operated through a keyboard or alternate keyboard is accessible by people with no vision who cannot use devices such as mice that require eye-hand coordination, as well as by people who must use alternate keyboards or input devices that act as keyboard emulators.
Principle 3: Understandable
The information and the operation of a user interface must be understandable. Users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface. Across the banks, the failure rate based on this principle was 70%.
The most common issue under this principle was checkpoint 3.2.2, which requires that changing the setting of any user interface element shouldn't cause an automatic change of context, unless the user has been notified of the behavior before they use the element.
"Change of context" in this sense means "major changes in the content of the web page that, if made without user awareness, can disorient users who are not able to view the entire page simultaneously." This could include changes of user agent, of viewport (usually the active window), of focus, or of content that changes the meaning of the page.
Principle 4: Robust
Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. As technologies and user agents evolve, the content must remain accessible. Across the banks, the failure rate based on this principle was 97%.
The most common issue under this principle was checkpoint 4.1.1, which requires that all elements have complete start and end tags, that they're nested properly, that have no duplicate attributes, and that IDs are unique to ensure assistive technology can properly parse the content.
Although best practice for thorough website testing requires a combination of both automated and human review, 25 of the 38 WCAG 2.0 A/AA checkpoints, which measure between 20% and 30% of a website’s accessibility, can be accurately tested using automated tools. Scans, such as the one performed by BoIA, are valuable in providing an initial overview for the accessibility of a given website.
Overall, according to BoIA’s benchmark, the average failure rate of the banking industry was 58%.
The banking industry has made progress over the past decade, but our analysis shows that there is still room for improvement.
RBC Royal Bank, whose website scored better than 61% of those tested, has an online presence that is considerably more accessible than the industry average. Even so, RBC Royal Bank could increase its score even further through simple measures.
Curious how your website stacks up? You can request your own free overview report and find out.
For those who are interested, specific results used in the BoIA benchmark are available below, in no particular order:
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Bank of America Corp.
Wells Fargo & Co.
TD Group US Holdings LLC
RBC Royal Bank
Bank of Montreal
Hang Seng Bank
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce