Large portions of online content hosted by Australia’s biggest financial organisations are not accessible to people with a disability.

According to a recent crawl of the websites of 50 of Australia’s largest financial organisations, on average 41 per cent of their website content is not accessible to people with a disability.

Known as the Digital Certainty Index (DCI), the test was conducted by Siteimprove and measures a range of factors including the accessibility of websites.

Improving accessibility online is a focus for the Australian Bankers’ Association, which appointed former disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes, to review banking accessibility standards for people with disabilities in November last year.

The review aims to ensure all Australians are able to access banking services including ATMs, Eftpos, online banking and apps.

The Australian Network on Disability (AND) also works with Australian organisations, including several of the major banks, to actively pursue increased accessibility.

Suzanne Colbert AM, CEO at AND, said Australian banks are performing towards the top end of access and inclusion compared to other private and public-sector organisations.

Colbert says 38 per cent of households include a family member with disability, so it’s vital organisations get better at listening to people with disability.

“Being accessible and inclusive is not only the right thing to do, it gives organisations a competitive edge and makes good business sense,” she said.

Companies have an obligation to make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities under the Disability Discrimination Act .

Coles is one Australian business which overhauled its website design in 2016 to be more accessible in response to legal action.

In 2014 Sydney woman Gisele Mesnage, who has been blind since birth, sued Coles over difficulties placing online orders, which could take up to 14 hours over two or three days. The case was settled in February 2015, with Coles agreeing to make online shopping more accessible.

Focusing on inclusive design of digital services will improve the general user experience for all users – not only those with disabilities, argues Siteimprove’s Lead Accessibility Strategist for EMEA & APAC, Stein Erik Skotkjerra.

“Our experience is that organisations who adopt an inclusive mindset generally have higher customer satisfaction and a higher rate of conversion,” Skotkjerra said.

Companies can conduct a manual audit, which is often by an organisation such as Centre for Inclusive Design or Vision Australia or use automated testing conducted by companies like Siteimprove, to measure their digital accessibility.

UPDATE 12/03/2018: Siteimprove recommends businesses adopt a combination of manual and automated testing to check their site accessibility – some errors can be spotted by machines while humans are required to assess features based on context and meaning.

Stewart Hay, co-founder and managing director of Intopia Digital, which provides inclusive design and accessibility testing to businesses, argues manual testing is required to ensure digital tools are inclusive.

“Automated testing tools have a place, but most tools only check against 20-30 per cent of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) success criteria, a requirement for all Australian businesses,” Hay told Which-50.

“Manual testing, combined with involving people with disabilities for usability testing, is still the best way to make any online service inclusive.”

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