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Welcome to the September 2016 issue of the CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter!

This month we also a light on the Finance industry and the intrinsic relationship it has with document accessility in today’s digital age

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The CommonLook Accessibility Newsletter Team

 

 

PDF  Accessibility and The Financial Services Industry 

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On Dec. 11, 2013, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed a complaint in intervention in the lawsuit National Federal of the Blind (NFB) et al. v. HRB Digital LLC et al. to enforce Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (see related item regarding 25th Anniversary of the ADA).

This was a significant event in accessibility and the successful application of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the website of a private sector enterprise. The website was considered to be a public accommodation and commercial facility. The website could run afoul of Title III in the same manner that the local H&R Block tax preparation office could be found to be inaccessible.

The complaint alleged that the tax preparation service failed to code its website in a manner that would make it accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing, and physical disabilities.

The suit resulted in an agreement, referred to as a Consent Decree, between H&R Block and the plaintiffs.

What are the broader implications for the Financial Services industry? Your online presence must be just as accessible as your branch offices and ATM machines. Any electronic information and statements available from the website – whether HTML, PDF, Word or other format – should conform to WCAG 2.0 AA.

What other measures can a financial services company take? One strategy could be to implement the provisions of another firm’s consent decree voluntarily and avoid the financial penalties and cost of litigation.

Under the terms of the five year decree, H&R Block’s website, tax filing utility, and mobile apps had to conform to:

  • Level AA Success Criteria of the WCAG 2.0.
  • According to the decree, the H&R Block website will be accessible for the start of the tax filing term on Jan. 1, 2015, with additional accessibility deadlines over the following years of the decree.
  • Additionally, HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group have agreed to:
    • appoint a skilled web accessibility coordinator who will report to H&R Block’s enterprise Chief Information Officer;
    • adopt a web accessibility policy; initiate training on accessible design for its web content personnel;
    • evaluate employee and contractor performance based on successful web access programming;
    • conduct regular automated and user group testing; and
    • hire an approved outside consultant to prepare annual independent evaluations of Block’s online accessibility.
    • H&R Block was to pay $45,000 to the two individual plaintiffs, and a $55,000 civil penalty.

NetCentric Technologies and its CommonLook brand of products and services make it possible for financial services firms and all manner of public and private sector enterprises to produce ADA compliant content for websites and internal document production and distribution.

 

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