Financial Institutions Doing Digital Accessibility Right

Man using a laptop to access information from his financial institution

Usually, when large financial institutions (FIs)  are in the news for anything related to digital accessibility,  it’s because a company has gotten hit with a lawsuit for failing to make its website and resources accessible. But there are plenty of FIs out there that are choosing to prioritize digital accessibility to make sure they’re reaching everyone in their audience. Many of these companies go above and beyond the basics for an accessible, usable, inclusive experience for all of their customers and website visitors.

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Bank of America 

In 2000, Bank of America was the first organization to legally agree to make its website and resources accessible to customers who are blind. The California Council of the Blind and Bank of America (BoA) entered into a structured negotiation with the help of lawyer Lainey Feingold to determine how BoA could make all of its digital assets available to people with disabilities. BoA installed talking ATMs that allowed people with visual impairments to access their banking information and make transactions independently at these kiosks. Additionally, BoA agreed to make written account information such as bank statements and product materials available in different formats and accessible to assistive technology. As the largest bank in America and the first to publicly and legally address accessibility, BoA set an example of what accessibility could look like in the financial industry.

Another notable feature of BoA’s accessibility experience is the use of a structured negotiation. As opposed to the confrontational nature of a lawsuit, structured negotiations take into account the best interests of both parties, allowing the defendant to learn from the plaintiff what they need and how the defendant can realistically address their concerns.

BoA has continued to prioritize digital accessibility across all of its solutions, including those that didn’t even exist when the agreement was negotiated over 20 years ago. Brian Frumkin, Associate General Counsel of BoA, says this about its continued efforts: “Today, our ATMs, online banking and mobile app allow all customers, including customers with disabilities, to perform basic banking services, such as deposits and withdrawals, but also to transfer money, pay bills, apply for a loan or credit card and even talk with Erica, our artificial intelligence solution. We look forward to continued collaboration in the future to help improve the financial lives of all our customers.”

Key takeaways:

  • Take time to learn and listen to what assistive technology users need.
  • Continue to include and prioritize digital accessibility even after the initial accessibility issues have been solved.
  • Go beyond the initial accessibility ask.

Capital One

Capital One began prioritizing digital accessibility 12 years ago, starting with their SEO department. They realized that many of the things they did to enhance their SEO strategy, such as adding alt text to images and using meta descriptions for links, also were helpful for assistive technology. Search engines are able to parse information in much the same way assistive technology can. This focus on accessibility also corresponds naturally with their corporate values of “excellence” and “do the right thing.”

Despite aligning with their corporate values, one of the early challenges Capital One faced in its journey to accessibility was getting company-wide buy-in.  Senior Director of Digital Accessibility, Mark Penicook, was the driving force behind Capital One’s accessibility journey. He and his team launched an internal campaign to demonstrate the importance of building in digital accessibility from the very beginning, and not trying to retroactively apply accessibility features. One thing Penicook and his team made clear to everyone in the company was that their client base was made up of a wide variety of diverse people. Due to their diligence, Penicook’s accessibility team is now a part of product development across the company.

Capital One was also able to scale its efforts by improving efficiency. Finding the right tools to test and implement accessibility solutions allowed them to reduce their testing time significantly. The use of automation also took some work off the team’s plate, allowing them to focus on more complex problems.

Key Takeaways:

  • Get companywide buy-in
  • Get the right tools
  • Look for ways to improve efficiency
  • Use automation to reduce tedious or manual tasks (Interested in automation for accessibility? Equidox can help.)

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank is dedicated to inclusion. The goal of the digital accessibility team at U.S. Bank is “Making sure that every single digital product that a customer or employee touches is equally usable by all.” This is no small feat for a company as large as U.S. Bank, and the initiative requires buy-in from across the company. 

The digital accessibility team at U.S. Bank takes accessibility seriously and advises product development teams across the entire project lifecycle. To achieve this, the company nominates a set of champions to advocate for accessibility throughout various departments. It also uses an Accessibility Champion program, in which employees can nominate coworkers whom they feel are moving the needle for accessibility. This permeating culture of accessibility ensures it is considered from the very beginning of the design process. Their efforts include collaborating with customers with disabilities. This aligns with their motto that says, “If you’re going to make something for someone, make it with them.”

Their efforts have won them acknowledgment as top accessibility leaders; U.S. Bank was recently honored with the Most Diverse Adoption of Accessibility Award by Deque. It also attracts top talent and ranks among the best inclusive employers by organizations such as the National Organization on Disability, Disability:IN, and Forrester Research.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bake in accessibility from the beginning of product development
  • Designate “accessibility champions” throughout various departments in the company


Citibank is leading the way in educating its employees on how to make their resources accessible. They’ve established a central department that monitors and manages all digital accessibility initiatives company-wide called the Digital Accessibility Center of Excellence. Citibank uses Deque’s educational platform to inform its teams on accessibility requirements and maintains an Accessibility Resource website for employees to access additional disability and inclusion resources. Once they established all of these inclusive practices and resources for their internal community, they chose to go beyond their own organization and co-developed a campaign with the city of New York called “EmpoweredNYC Campaign.” The campaign provided financial counseling for New York residents with disabilities. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Designate a team to oversee digital accessibility initiatives
  • Compile digital accessibility requirements and best practices in one central location and make sure all employees can find what they need quickly and easily

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How you can become more accessible

One thing all these accessible FIs have in common is that they all prioritize making accessibility part of the culture of their organization. Every department is involved in the process and is made aware of what they need to do to contribute to an overall accessible company. Give employees the tools they need to successfully make the content and products they produce accessible from the beginning. 



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Nina Overdorff

Nina comes to Equidox with years of sales and marketing experience from a variety of industries and holds a BS in Language Arts Education. Nina has a passion for words, storytelling, and information, which she believes everyone should have access to regardless of ability. After spending time as a teacher with a blind student, she became much more aware of the limitations and abilities of web accessibility, and how essential it is to those experiencing disabilities. “Being able to access information equally ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity for education, employment, and success in life.”

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