508 Compliant for Banks

The banking industry is currently under siege from law firms exploiting aspects of ADA Compliance to grab quick cash via settlements. I found this topic intriguing because it has a net ripple through the entire web industry. It’s no surprise that banks are being forced to carry more liability as it pertains to customer experience than other industries even though, in many cases, unjustly so. The very nature of the industry and it’s view to the public is that of a community right as opposed to a functional business.

W3C LogoAttention from our most recent economic collapse has also brought banks directly into the cross hairs of not just public scrutiny but profiteers looking to exploit the current defensive posture that banks find themselves in. So what is the threat that I’m referring to? If you’re not familiar with ADA Compliance, it is essentially the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that says websites must be accessible by those with disabilities, particularly the vision impaired.

I don’t disagree that this is important and needs to be addressed; however, the vultures are circling, so banks and financial institutions need to respond now. The regional and local banks are currently at threat much more than the national/international players who have been punished for these oversights long ago. Banks must get compliant and then STAY compliant, which is much easier said than done. Therefore, there are some critical details to understand right now.

Compliancy Fun Facts

Fun Fact #1: ADA, 508, and WCAG 2.0 are not the same thing. I’ve been corrected a million times by my solutions architect for using these terms interchangeably. It pisses me off, but ultimately, he’s correct. These are not the same thing. ADA is The Americans with Disabilities Act that was written into law in 1990; it requires, by law, that electronic and information technology must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. 508 works in conjunction with ADA but is not affiliated accepted as the actual standards that need to be followed. 508 regulations are part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In January 2017, the 508 standards were updated for the first time in 17 years and are supporting/referencing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) AA variety.

Fun Fact #2: Banks are getting sued left and right. The time for getting your website compliant is right now. Not your next big thing you take on. Not after you finish your CRM migration, but RIGHT NOW. These lawsuits are being produced at no additional effort other than changing the name. Recent articles from ABA Journal’s Corporate Compliance sections help to sum it up eloquently.

Fun Fact #3: You can’t be compliant and just stay there. Compliancy is a sustained effort within your web presence that requires regular procedures for making adjustments, developing new content, and deploying new features within your web presence(s). It also requires regular audits to ensure the website as a whole is remaining in compliance.

Final Thoughts

Do not be fooled; this is coming for all websites in all industries. However, no industry will be as impacted as the medical and financial sectors regardless of their organizations’ private or public status. My web firm is making some big moves to get all of our existing client base compliant. If you’re not there yet, you will need to act soon; this issue cannot remain on the back burner of your to-do list because the consequences could otherwise cost you significantly.