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Accessibility Standards: Are They Part of Your Fintech Product Yet?

Abby Milan

November 16, 2021

Unprecedented times. TikTok challenges. Circle the wagons. All buzzwords and trends we’re more than ready to retire. Accessibility, however, is no buzzword, nor is it a performative trend. Accessibility means giving your users with disabilities the same great experience you give to your users without disabilities. And while that alone should be enough for any design team to want to comply, there are more reasons to get on board.

Accessibility is simply good business. And it’s a must for any Fintech product looking to grow its user base, provide a quality customer experience, and stay out of legal trouble.

If you know your website lacks compliance with accessibility standards, or even if you’ve never heard of accessibility before, no shame. Don’t panic. Learning the basics will get you on the right track.

Why ADA Compliance is Especially Important for Fintech Products

Consider this: About 15% of all digital product users experience a disability that affects how they interact with that product. And every one of those users in that 15% may need access to banks, ATMs, loans, P2P lending, online payment, insurance, and more.

It’s safe to say if your Fintech product isn’t inclusive of accessibility standards (meaning they adhere to Section 508 and are ADA compliant) you could easily be alienating a huge chunk of customers.

Not good for business, and not good for your bottom line.

After all, if a user downloads your product but can’t see the signup button because the color contrast disagrees with their color blindness, you’ve just lost a customer (and you better hope they don’t tell their friends).

Though it is catching on, ADA compliance on a website or app is something that few Fintech companies know about until it’s too late (read: they’re slapped with a lawsuit). Imagine your color blind user suing your brand for not following accessibility standards. It happens!

So, not only is it a business imperative, it’s a legal one, too. And with the rise in Fintech products — and the people using them — the imperative will only grow. According to BarrierBreak, the number of online banking accounts has increased dramatically since the pandemic. You can bet mobile banking isn’t going to slow down any time soon.

And of course, there’s the moral imperative. You should naturally want to give all your customers — regardless of their physical or cognitive capabilities — the same great experience. It’s the right thing to do.

A Lifesaving Accessibility Standards Checklist for Your Digital Product

The wide world of accessibility standards is...well, wide. It’s hard to know where to even start. Use this handy checklist to make sure you’re designing your product with ADA compliance in mind.

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Bonus Benefits of an ADA Compliant Fintech Product

Besides the legal, moral, and business motivations to be compliant, there are bonus benefits to making sure you are accessible.

First, it pleases the Google gods. The more ADA compliant your website, the more SEO friendly it is. Because anything a screen reader can read, Google can read.

So, you’re not just posting a picture of two people looking at a computer, are you?

You’re posting a picture of a father teaching his teenage son the basics of saving money using your Fintech product. That’s something Google will pick up and favor whenever someone searches those keywords — potentially putting your digital product at the front of the pack.

Second, learning accessibility standards saves you time and money in the long run.

Once your designers learn how to incorporate the right elements and design, the less back-and-forth they’ll have to do later when they inevitably have to include them. Plus, you can add accessibility elements into your design system so that your team can easily access them. It may be a lift for your team to learn in the beginning, but you’ll be sure you’re avoiding any expensive and hasty updates later on.

What Accessibility Standards Look Like for Fintech Products

For those fortunate enough to experience life without disabilities, it may come as a surprise just how many there are. More than hearing or vision impairments, there are also learning and mobility disabilities that factor into measuring ADA compliance.

While there is a lot to learn when it comes to accessibility, here are a few basics you need to consider, especially as it relates to Fintech. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of a woman's face looking at a board with various shapes such as rectangles, circles and hand icons.

Vision – Colors, sizes, and screen readers.

There are a range of vision impairments that affect a user’s ability to use your product. Color contrast, size/magnification, and screen readers are all good things for your team to get familiar with.

First, your contrast ratios between text and a text’s background should be 4.5 to 1. And don’t use color alone as the only visual cue to convey information. Use it to complement what is already visible, like primary and secondary CTAs, for example. The Secondary CTA could be an outline while the primary is a solid. Similarly, consider using other cues besides color to determine focus, like outlines or dotted outlines.

Fintech pro-tip: On graphs and charts, use patterns alongside color to ensure all users can discern between the different metrics

For size and magnification purposes, ensure that your hover states and UI elements hold their position until the user actively navigates away from the area. This is important for users with screen magnifier tools to position the tool over tooltips and other hidden-text elements. Avoid arbitrary hovering as much as possible and instead, use menus for secondary information. An info icon is better than white space to trigger hover.

Fintech pro-tip: Decimals and numerals can be hard to discern on a screen even for someone with 20/20 vision. Help everyone out by making them large enough to read on any screen size. And don’t forget to check your superscript and subscript.

Screen readers are enormously helpful tools that allow people with low eyesight or blindness to accurately interpret what’s on their screen. For this reason, make sure you’re being descriptive in what’s being shown. Add alternative text (alt text) to all images so the screen reader can describe the image to your user.

For those who may suffer from seizures, a fast, bright, flashing color can be a trigger. Similarly, people who get motion sickness can be easily triggered by repetitive or mirrored images — so stay away from those. Animation is a great tool that brings life to your brand, just make sure your designs are inclusive for all users. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of an ear and frequency surrounded by clouds.

Hearing – Audio transcripts and visual cues

Add captions to your videos! Not only does it help those experiencing a hearing impairment, it also allows people to watch your videos if they’re in a public place and don’t have headphones. Helpful for all!

For longer-form videos or audio-only content like podcasts, provide audio transcripts. And when you do produce videos, turn off auto-play. Loud sounds can sometimes startle or trigger someone with hearing aids or those with sensitive hearing.

When it comes to giving your users options for contacting your customer service team, provide a chat option in addition to a phone number or email address.

Lastly, whenever your product’s notifications pop up, make sure there’s a visual cue alongside an auditory one. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of tables and clipboards surrounded by gear icons, pencil and various shapes such as circles, rectangles, squares and triangles.

Learning – Cognitive disabilities and more

Some of your users may experience dyslexia, memory issues, and other cognitive impairments that affect how they use your product. To keep these users in mind, pay attention to your labels. When users enter a field, make sure to label outside of your field inputs so they can still understand what information is being asked of them.

If you have large blocks of text anywhere, break them up into smaller, easily digestible paragraphs. Use headers, subheaders, and bullet points. Not only does this help someone with cognitive difficulties comprehend your content easier, but it helps any reader from losing interest.

Fintech pro-tip: Avoid using acronyms or jargon for technical terms. There are finance technical terms that not everyone knows, like HELC, APR, Basis point, AUM, FICO score, just to name a few.

For your dyslexic users specifically, ensure your typefaces and kerning isn’t too narrow or wide so they can read through text more easily. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of hand typing on a keyboard surrounded by various shapes.

Mobility – Keyboard navigation

Not everyone is able to operate a mouse or touchpad, due to mobility issues. That means your keyboard navigation needs to be on point in order to serve them. Web pages should be easily navigated by using only the arrow keys, tab, enter, and the space bar.

Organizing the best hierarchy and direction of your keyboard navigation may not come easily, but it’s worth it to get right. To make it easier, start at the header, then subheaders, navigation, main content from left to right, then from the top to the bottom, and finally the footer.

Accessibility Standards are Fluid, So Keep Your Product’s Design Fresh

Just like your digital product, accessibility standards are always evolving. What’s true this year may be expanded upon next year. It’s best to have your design team stay up to speed to ensure your product isn’t going to hinder what you’ve been working so hard to build.

The more intentionally designed your product is for everyone, the better. Because it’s simple: When you design with inclusivity in mind, your sales and brand loyalty go up. Better yet, you’ll secure your spot on Santa’s “nice” list.

A Lifesaving Accessibility Standards Checklist for Your Digital Product

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