Accessibility 101 for Financial Institutions

What kinds of barriers do customers with disabilities encounter?

Andrea is blind and uses screen reader technology on her laptop and iPhone to navigate the internet and mobile apps.

“I’m trying to fill out an application online, but the form fields aren’t labeled, so JAWS (my screen reader) is not telling me what information I should type into what field.”


Don is deaf-blind and uses a screen reader with audio output connected directly to his cochlear implant.

“My bank statements are a mess. There are sortable columns, but the headers are missing, so I can’t sort by the name of the item or by credit or debit. And don’t get me started on the PDFs. I can never read those.”


Martin has Parkinson’s disease and his severe hand tremors prevent him from using a mouse. He relies on his keyboard to navigate online.

“I needed a new car loan and was comparing online lenders’ rates. The site I was on used dropdown menus for navigation. I could tab through the top menu items, but wasn’t able to use my arrow keys to select from the dropdown lists. I looked for a sitemap link as an alternative, but no luck, so I moved on to a different site that I was able to use.” 

Benji has low vision and uses a screen magnifying program or pinch-to-zoom feature to make the text on her screen large enough to read.

“The help text for the retirement income calculator is printed inside the form field, but the contrast is so low, I can’t make out what it says.”


Frankie has severe arthritis in her hands and uses a speech-to-text program (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) to type and navigate the web.

“The button at the bottom of the Add a Bill form says ‘Add a Bill’, but when I ask Dragon to ‘click on Add a Bill’, it doesn’t click that button. It took some guessing, but it turns out I had to ask Dragon to click Submit.”


Emile has limited dexterity in his arms and hands and uses a switch to use his computer and iPad. Switch devices allow a person with limited mobility to input information by tapping two buttons—one to scroll and one to select.

“I filled out the entire form to apply for a loan. I got to the end of the page where it said to check that I accepted the terms and conditions, but it was impossible for me to navigate to the box and check it. All that work for nothing!”