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Online Banking Accessibility & ADA Website Compliance

Illustration of a person sitting at a desk on a computer with a bank illustration behind it

In today’s digital age, online banking accessibility has become a crucial aspect of financial institutions’ digital strategies. As more customers rely on digital platforms for their banking needs, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their abilities, can access and use online banking services is paramount. According to a 2022 Forbes survey, approximately 78% of adults in the U.S. prefer to bank online or via a mobile app, while only 29% prefer an in-person banking experience.

Given this shift in consumer behavior, it is more important than ever that banks make the same investment in accessibility for their online presence as they do for their physical locations. In this blog post, we delve into the significance of online banking accessibility and the importance of ADA website compliance for banks.

Benefits of Accessible Bank Websites

Web accessibility for banks and financial institutions is important because it promotes inclusivity by ensuring individuals with disabilities can use online banking services effectively. As a bank, prioritizing web accessibility can help expand market reach to a broader audience, mitigate legal and financial risks, improve search engine rankings, and demonstrate corporate social responsibility by serving all customers equitably and responsibly.

Enhanced User Experience

Ensuring web accessibility for banks goes beyond mere compliance; it directly impacts the user experience. By designing websites that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, banks can provide a seamless and intuitive online banking experience. This translates into increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and trust in the bank’s services.

Expanded Market Reach

An ADA compliant website opens doors to a broader customer base. By catering to users with disabilities, such as visual impairments or mobility limitations, banks can better serve a segment of the population that might otherwise struggle to access their services. This inclusivity not only fosters a sense of social responsibility but also expands a bank’s market reach and potential for growth.

Legal Compliance & Risk Mitigation

ADA website compliance for banks is not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it’s about mitigating legal risks. Non-compliance can lead to costly lawsuits, reputational damage, and regulatory penalties. By proactively ensuring that their websites adhere to accessibility standards, banks can protect themselves from legal liabilities while simultaneously demonstrating their commitment to equal access for all customers.

Improved SEO & Organic Search Visibility

An often overlooked benefit of ADA compliant websites is their impact on search engine optimization (SEO). Web accessibility is increasingly important for search engines like Google because it contributes to a better user experience. Although not a major ranking factor, by optimizing for accessibility, banks can still help improve their online visibility, attract more organic traffic, and enhance their overall digital presence.

Positive Brand Image & Reputation

Lastly, maintaining an ADA compliant website contributes to a positive brand image and reputation. Customers perceive banks that prioritize accessibility as inclusive, responsible, and customer-centric, as these institutions are actively demonstrating a commitment to their corporate social responsibility initiatives. This fosters goodwill, enhances brand loyalty, and sets the bank apart as a leader in providing accessible financial services.

Do Bank Websites Need to Be ADA Compliant?

ADA compliance is a critical aspect of website development, applicable to all businesses and institutions. Specifically, Title III of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all businesses open to the public, including banks, must not discriminate against people with disabilities. This not only applies to physical day-to-day operations, but to digital services and content as well. ADA compliance is in addition to other regulatory requirements, such as security protocols, that banks must adhere to.

Unfortunately, banks and financial institutions can become targets of ADA lawsuits and litigation if their websites are not ADA compliant. Individuals with disabilities may face barriers when accessing online banking services, leading to legal actions against non-compliant institutions. These lawsuits can result in financial penalties, reputational damage, and the obligation to make costly website modifications to achieve compliance. Thus, making the investment to build and maintain an ADA compliant website up front may save banks high costs in the long run.

ADA Requirements for Bank Websites

Although a website is just one piece of digital banking, it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing an inclusive and seamless experience for all users. As stated previously, financial institutions must ensure that their websites are ADA compliant in order to provide equal access to all customers, including those with disabilities. While there are no explicit ADA requirements specifically for bank websites, adherence to at least the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standards is highly recommended. Some of the key requirements and important WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines that banks should aim for include:

Alt Text for Images

Images on bank websites should have descriptive alternative text (alt text) that conveys the content and purpose of the image to users who cannot see them. This is crucial for users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to access web content.

Color Contrast Standards

Ensure that text and background colors have sufficient contrast to be easily readable by users with low vision or color blindness. WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards specify contrast ratios for text against backgrounds to enhance readability and accessibility.

Keyboard Accessibility

Bank websites should be fully navigable using a keyboard alone, without requiring a mouse or touchpad. This is important for users who cannot use a mouse due to mobility impairments or other disabilities.

Video & Audio Accessibility

Videos and audio content should have captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions to make them accessible to users with hearing impairments. Providing alternative formats ensures that all users can access and understand multimedia content.

Form Accessibility

Ensure that online forms on bank websites are accessible to users with disabilities. This includes using clear labels, logical tab order, and error messages that are understandable and accessible to screen reader users.

Security Considerations

Incorporate accessibility into security measures to ensure that security features are accessible to all users. For example, CAPTCHA challenges should have accessible alternatives for users with visual impairments, such as audio CAPTCHAs or alternative methods of verification.

Consistent Navigation & Structure

Maintain a consistent navigation structure across the website, with clear headings, menus, and links. This helps users with disabilities navigate and understand the website’s content more easily.

By prioritizing these WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements and integrating accessibility considerations into security measures, banks can create more inclusive and accessible online experiences for all customers, helping them to meet ADA guidelines and enhancing user satisfaction.

How to Improve the Accessibility of Bank Websites

To improve the accessibility of your bank website, there are a few steps that must be followed. First, identify what areas of the website are not in compliance, remediate them, and finally conduct ongoing maintenance and testing in order to ensure that web accessibility standards continue to be met. Repeating this process on a regular basis will help to improve the overall accessibility of your banking website and help to eliminate any potential issues with user experience.

ADA Compliance Audits

The first step to improving the accessibility of your banking website is to conduct an ADA compliance audit. These audits identify accessibility barriers for users and determine if your website meets ADA standards, assessing it against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, including WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements, which are commonly used to measure ADA compliance. It is recommended to hire a professional web accessibility specialist or a company that specializes in ADA compliance audits for accurate and comprehensive results.

For example, at Bytes.co we partner with Accessible Web to perform manual accessibility audits of clients’ websites. Once the audit is complete, our website development team takes over the process from there, identifying accessibility barriers from the audit and implementing remediations as needed.

Identify Accessibility Barriers

Next, determine if your banking website is ADA compliant by reviewing audit results. Look for accessibility barriers such as lack of alt text for images, keyboard navigation issues, color contrast deficiencies, and inaccessible forms. These barriers can significantly impact users with disabilities, hindering their ability to navigate the website, access important information, and complete transactions seamlessly.

Remediation of Accessibility Issues

After identifying accessibility barriers, prioritize remediations to address issues found in the audit. While banks and other financial institutions could handle remediations internally, web accessibility requires specialized knowledge and expertise, which is why it is recommended to go with a professional to assist with this step. Certified web accessibility specialists offer tailored remediation solutions to ensure compliance and improve user experience, and have the expertise to get remediations right the first time.

Ongoing Maintenance & Testing

Finally, implementing ongoing maintenance and testing helps to maintain ADA compliance over time while also addressing new accessibility challenges. Regular testing ensures continued accessibility and compliance with evolving standards. Ongoing maintenance involves updating content, features, and design elements to remain accessible, while regular testing helps identify and fix any new accessibility issues that may arise. This proactive approach not only improves the overall user experience but also reduces the risk of potential ADA lawsuits and litigation.

Online Banking Accessibility

Beyond the website itself, banks must also consider the accessibility of their online banking platforms to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for all users. Many banks rely on third-party online banking platforms that are separate from their main website. These platforms handle transactions, account management, and other financial services.

Unfortunately, external web developers cannot directly improve the accessibility of third-party platforms that are not native to the banking website. However, with the help of a trusted web accessibility specialist, banks should conduct thorough evaluations and choose platforms that align with accessibility standards, such as WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements.

Although individual financial institutions have the power to make the switch to an ADA compliant third-party online banking platform, a change of this magnitude – though worthy and recommended – is often challenging to implement. While the choice of an accessible third-party platform is important, optimizing the bank’s own website for accessibility is often more feasible and can significantly improve the overall user experience for customers.


Banks and financial institutions have a duty to serve all customers equitably and responsibly, including through their website and online banking platforms. In order to achieve this, banks must take proactive steps to ensure compliance with ADA and WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards, preferably under the guidance of a certified professional. At Bytes.co, our web accessibility services, led by certified web accessibility specialists, offer a comprehensive approach to improving online banking accessibility. Contact us to get started on making your banking website more accessible.

Get Help Making Your Banking Website Accessible

From initial audits to remediations and ongoing maintenance, we help banks and financial institutions meet ADA standards and provide an inclusive digital experience for all users.

Shea Lincourt

Shea Lincourt

Shea has lived in Vermont her entire life. She grew up in southern Vermont and later moved to Burlington to pursue a degree in marketing at the University of Vermont. Upon graduating cum laude, Shea started her marketing career as a digital marketing intern at Bytes.co before becoming our digital marketing analyst.

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