The statistics for 2019 are still being tallied, but law firm Seyfarth Shaw predicts that at least 20 percent of  ADA Title III lawsuits last year involved inaccessible websites and mobile apps. Although the rate of filings slowed down during the last quarter of the year, the total number of lawsuits was on track for surpassing the more than 10,000 lawsuits filed in 2018.

Looking forward to 2020, we can expect the trend to continue. Bank websites are a prime target for unscrupulous lawyers and their clients to file an ADA lawsuit. Here are three easy ways to ensure your bank website is ADA compliant.

  1. Include Alt-Text for Images
  2. Caption Your Videos
  3. Ensure Uploaded Documents Are Accessible
  4. Final Words

 

Include Alt Text or Captions for Images

A picture is worth a thousand words. For your blind and visually impaired customers using screen readers to visit your bank website, those words couldn’t ring truer. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 requires all website images, except those that are purely decorative, to have alternative text, also known as alt text. Alt text is the HTML code that describes the appearance and/or function of an image on the page. Captions may be added in lieu of alt text.

In 2017, Maria Mendizabal sued Nike for failing to conform to WCAG requirements. Mendizabal, who is visually impaired, claimed Nike’s website did not use alt text or provide suitable captions for every visual element on the page. The case was ultimately dismissed after Nike settled out of court.

Adding alt text to your images on your bank site is as easy as adding the image itself. In WordPress, you can enter alt text when you add an image to or select an image from your Media Library. To edit an image that is already on the page, click the image to select it, and then click the pencil icon to edit the alt text.

When writing alt text, be as descriptive as possible. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a tutorial covering image concepts that you might find useful.

 

Caption Your Videos

Adding multimedia to your bank website is a fantastic way to communicate with customers. With today’s technology, you can produce quality videos on your own and share it with your customers with ease.

The video could advertise the latest interest rates, or it might be an instructional video on how to use online banking. Whatever the topic, you need to make sure the video adheres to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards for multimedia accessibility.

Videos should include at least one of the following: captions or subtitles, a transcript, or an audio description of the visuals. Otherwise, your disabled customers cannot receive the same experience as your abled customers.

In February 2015, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sued Harvard University for posting video and audio on its website that lacked captioning. The complaint claimed the University violated ADA compliance because the content was inaccessible to the deaf and hearing impaired. The University settled in 2019, agreeing to caption all Harvard-produced content posted on and after December 1, 2019, and paying more than $1.5 million for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

Captioning your videos is simple if you upload them to YouTube. You can also pay a transcription or captioning service for a fee based on the length of your video.

 

Ensure Uploaded Documents Are Accessible

ADA compliance for your bank website goes beyond what your customer sees on the page. Accessibility also applies to any files or documents your customer can download from your site. For instance, you might upload a PDF file of a brochure or account disclosures to supplement web page content.

In 2016, Bank of America avoided legal action concerning mortgage-related documents posted on its website. Rather than taking the bank to court, the civil rights firm representing Jessie Lorenz, a mortgage holder who is visually impaired, negotiated an agreement for the financial institution to ensure the bank’s “content, features, and services of its web pages and documents for mortgage holders are accessible to all site users, including people who are  blind or visually impaired.”

Lorenz actually partnered with Bank of America to help them on the project to make the mortgage documents ADA compliant. In 2019, the Disability Rights Advocates presented its Eagle Award to Bank of America for its ongoing commitment to the disabled community as it continues to focus on digital accessibility.

 

Final Words

The U.S. General Services Administration has a collection of resources for creating ADA compliant digital content. The purpose of this federal government site is to provide guidelines for meeting or exceeding ADA accessibility requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Before you can think about making your digital content accessible, you need to start with ensuring your bank website is ADA compliant. Our BankSITE® ADA Accessibility Module minimizes your risk of accessibility litigation. With the number of web accessibility lawsuits steadily rising, you can’t afford to wait another minute. Bank websites that we host are certified ADA compliant with an opt-in by our customers.  And we keep your websites compliant regardless of updates that are made on an ongoing basis.

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