HERE is a sharing of my online banking experience from the perspective of a visually impaired person.
First, blind tech 101. With the help of assistive technology, like the screen reader, I can use my smartphone or computer like everyone else. TalkBack on my smartphone and NonVisual Desktop Access on my computer will read aloud to me the contents of the screen interpreting the text and image content as speech (text-to-speech).
Swiping finger or gestures, keyboard arrow keys, keyboard key combination shortcut would allow screen reader to interact with most operating software, websites and applications.
Digital accessibility simply means user-friendly technology disabled. It allows any system to be accessed, navigated or interacted with independently by the user without obstacles, if fully accessible. The user is able to interact with user interfaces designed by the developer such as texts, buttons, forms, menus, links and many more.
Here is the complexity part that concerns me. Many online banking platforms in Malaysia are only partially accessible to blind and visually impaired people, which limits the degree of usability on the internet or mobile banking apps.
Screen reader readings like “button without label”, “image1.jpg”, or “unknown” are some of the common things we hear frequently, which can discourage our system from interacting. Therefore, we cannot process and complete certain transactions online.
Let me highlight some of the online banking issues that I have collected and note that it may differ from bank to bank.
● User cannot login/register due to non-editable form fields and unlabeled login button,
● Unidentified security image on the login page,
● Unable to view transaction history,
● Unable to locate transfer button in funds transfer page,
● Some main menu items are unresponsive.
Despite countless comments and pledges, there is still a noticeable lack of accessibility support on many websites and apps. I humbly appeal to developers of websites or apps for a need to step up in making them fully accessible.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Web Accessibility Initiative are some of the digital accessibility frameworks available from W3C. They highlight mobile and web accessibility standards or guidelines for developers.
In fact, there are accessibility testing tools for web and mobile apps that developers can use for their accessibility assessment.
Also, blind user usability testing is another effective option, as developers can get first-hand feedback on user experience.
My wish list for 2022 would be to achieve the following:
● Equal access to internet/mobile banking and ATM debit cards for visually impaired bank customers;
● More blind-friendly DAB in a community area with a high population of visually impaired people;
● More websites and apps that are 100% accessible to everyone;
● More effort on accessibility improvements on partial websites or apps.
I hope banks will include our digital challenges in their New Year’s business resolutions, making 2022 a truly inclusive year for the blind and visually impaired community with greater support for accessibility on the web and mobile apps.
Huge credit to the developers who have done so much for the painstaking efforts to champion the digital accessibility movement. To be accessible is to be attentive. Not only inclusive through legislation, but inclusive through achievable actions.
Autonomy and empowerment are the best respect for the disability community.
These are some of
the voices of around
53,089 blind and visually impaired people in Malaysia.
Poon Rhui Hung
St. Nicholas House