Banking on Website Accessibility Lawsuits

PROVIDENCE, RI--(Marketwired - April 11, 2014) - People with visual, auditory, cognitive recognition, speech or physical special needs have difficulties accessing many popular banking websites due to the startling lack of support for assistive technology.

Recognizing this to be a barrier to consumer banking growth, the Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA) has compiled a list of the banks most vulnerable to litigation risk based on the proposed update to Americans with Disabilities Act Title III. This update defines all consumer commercial websites as being places that must provide for "public accommodation" including those with special needs. Failure to comply can bring significant liability under the law.

Banking, widely considered to be an essential service to the general population, will most likely be put on notice by those who oversee these newly enforceable requirements. The most common areas of failure that prohibit users with disabilities access to banking website information include:

  • Not enabling content to be transformed into large print, sound, symbols, or less-complex language, usable to various handicap requirements
  • Not offering alternatives for media that is in audio or video form thus allowing captions and audio descriptions for the user to select the appropriate format granting them accessibility to all content
  • Background and foreground elements not being separated to allow users to hear and see content
  • Web pages not offering navigational clarity to assist users in finding content and maintaining their orientation on the site

An online presence accessible to everyone makes good business sense and drastically reduces risk profile of a website accessibility lawsuit. Attorneys have seen a recent wave of ADA accessibility lawsuits against banks over the past two years related to both ATMs and general accessibility. That may just be the tip of the iceberg as the recognition of the special needs population continues to be a part of the awareness of the US Congress.

Incorporating the facilities for websites to accommodate for people with special needs is not difficult, but does require a focus. Once correctly implemented, banking websites can easily enable special needs customers to no longer require the assistance of a second person to conduct their online banking business.

Using an automated features-based testing and grading system that measures accessibility features within banks websites, BoIA has released its findings, identifying those banks most likely to be considered candidates for noncompliance website lawsuits under the proposed ADA title III requirements.

The list of banks is below. Click on the bank name to view the graded results.

Astoria Financial Corp.
Bank of Montreal
BB&T Corporation
Capital One Financial
Charles Schwab Corp.
City National Bank
Deutsche Bank
E-Trade Financial
Huntington Bancshares
BMO Financial Group
National Penn Bancshares Inc.
People's United Financial Inc.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Susquehanna Bancshares Inc.
Third Federal S&L
Toronto-Dominion Bank
United Community Banks, Inc.
Zions Bancorp
Arvest Bank Group
Associated Banc-Corp
Bank of Hawaii
Bank of New York Mellon
BOK Financial Corp.
Citizens Bank
Commerce Bancshares
Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.
First Banks Inc.
First Citizens Bancshares
New York Community Bancorp Inc.
Pacific Capital Bancorp
PNC Financial Services Group
State Street Corp.
Sterling Financial Corp.
SunTrust Bank
Synovus Financial Corp.
UMB Financial Corp.
Whitney Holding Corp.
East West Bancorp Inc.
International Bankshares Corp
Northern Trust
Pentagon Federal Credit Union
SVB Financial Group
Wilmington Trust

About the Bureau of Internet Accessibility WWW.BOIA.ORG

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility provides automated website accessibility scanning and results. Issues are identified and presented in a prioritized, comprehensive report with suggested remediation. BoIA's service is Web-based, automated, and repeatable to continuously monitor content. The initial graded accessibility scan is free with optional member services that provide unlimited accessibility scanning.