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Making Tax Preparation Software Accessible to People with Disabilities

E Foley 11/22/17

This article is the final in a four-part series about accessible technology for the financial industry. Read Part One – Making Online Banking and ATMs Accessible to People with DisabilitiesPart Two – Making Investing and Wealth Management Accessible to People with Disabilities and/or Part Three – Making Financial Apps Accessible to People with Disabilities.

While people with more complicated finances have their taxes done by a professional, many Americans take advantage of tax preparation software or websites. Since the information included in a tax return is the most private of private financial information, security is paramount. Accessible tax preparation software or websites allow people with disabilities to prepare their own taxes and keep their financial lives private.

icon of scissors cutting tax dollarCore activities offered to tax preparation customers should be accessible to people with disabilities, and can include:

  • Creating an account to file taxes online
  • Filing taxes through downloadable tax software
  • Viewing tax returns from previous years
  • Opening, viewing, and filling out W-4, I-9, and other forms
  • Uploading scanned W-2s, 1099s, and other forms
  • Reading available documents and articles on a tax preparation website
  • Watching videos by tax experts or from customer service

By implication, this also includes the general portions of the website or software that users need to navigate through to access these services.

light blue person iconJoe has been procrastinating, and it’s April 14th, so he sits down with a sigh and tries to file his taxes. He is legally blind, but prefers to use his screen reader rather than screen magnification. However, the PDF file the tax software offers of his previous year’s taxes is not accessible, so he can’t read the information he needs.

Level Access Technical Consultant, Nat Tarnoff, has a personal story about difficulties with tax preparation:

“I have a vestibular disorder. I used to go to a local tax preparation company office to have someone do my taxes, but the cost was getting prohibitive, so a few years ago I tried the online version of that company’s service. The animation on the website made me physically ill.  So, I tried a different tax prep company’s website. Same thing. Both systems had “wizard” style interfaces that make the next screen slide in from the left or top. There were additional small animations as it was calculating, too. But this primary screen movement triggered my vestibular disorder and made it very difficult to complete the taxes without assistance from my partner.”

Learn More!

If you liked this blog post, you’ll love the complete whitepaper, Making Financial Technology Accessible to People with Disabilities. Download it today for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about accessibility and the financial industry.

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