financial applications ion a mobile phone

Making Financial Apps Accessible to People with Disabilities

Written by: E Foley

Banking from home is one thing, but how great is it that we can trade stocks on the beach or manage a 401k while sitting in carpool, waiting for the kids to get out of school? Customers can manage their finances with a smartphone or tablet anywhere and anytime.

Customers who use banking apps experience the same challenges they encounter on banking websites. A majority of smartphone owners who are blind use iPhones. Why, you ask? Apple has the most mature accessible smartphone on the market, allowing for reliable features to work for pretty much any user. Apps that are written for iOS are more likely to be accessible, without even meaning to be!

Here are some activities your customers with disabilities may need to access via a mobile app:

  • Transferring funds
  • Paying off bills
  • Depositing a mobile check
  • Checking credit card due dates, balances, and rewards
  • Location services, i.e., finding a nearby branch or ATM

By implication, this also includes the general portions of the app users need to navigate through to access these services.

How Does a Person Who is Blind Use a Touchscreen?

Did we just read your mind? It’s cool, we get this question a lot so you can say we saw it coming. We’ll answer your question with another one: Think of your favorite app, one you use every day. Can you visualize the user interface for that app? Do you know, for example, where the pay button is on your Starbucks app, the pause button on Pandora, and what to do when the phone rings?

When accessibility features are turned on, a layer of audio feedback is added to each tap on the screen. A blind user taps on the screen in a particular area and hears information about what they have tapped. They can tap again to open that app or activate that button within the app. Thus, even without sight, a user can understand what is on the screen based on audio feedback.

This article is part of a series about accessible technology for the financial industry which also includes Making Online Banking and ATMs Accessible to People with Disabilities and Making Investing and Wealth Management Accessible to People with Disabilities.