Queron Jephcott Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Technology Web Development Web Strategy Compliance User Experience Featured

Accessibility in Private Business

Queron Jephcott Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Technology Web Development Web Strategy Compliance User Experience Featured

Accessibility has been an interesting word in web development for the last fifteen or so years. The forerunners of the web jumped on board (rightfully so) and started campaigning riotously that everyone else should follow suite. There was merit in this, people started thinking about the web as a channel for all people, not just computer-savvy tech-enthusiasts. Standards-compliance was justified, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) was defined, web sites slowly started to clean themselves up.

Naturally, with a vision to include every citizen equally, governments handed down roadmaps and in some cases, legislation to get their web sites WCAG compliant. Banks and other utilities were pushed down this path as well, as their users were everyone.

Everyone has promised compliance, but how close is everyone?

To get an update, I decided to look at the banks.

I personally don’t know anything about the Australian Bankers’ Association Inc, however they appear to have big name banks members.

Their report is a little out of date as it reference WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 is now ratified, but they set the benchmark at ‘Level 1’ of 1.0 (generally, the ‘Level A’ of 2.0, I don’t know why they had to change from numbers to letters). They also recommend that business work towards ‘Level 2, then 3’ (AA then AAA).

Realistically though, when checking bank websites, they loosely claim to be on the way to A, sometimes AA or just claim to comply with the standard.

The big four


(Vague and nicely placed in a PDF file)

Actions - Customer Service Timeline Measure
Ensure accessibility is considered during any future redevelopment of the CommBank website, and when developing new websites, using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ABA's Voluntary Standards fro electronic banking on a project by project basis. Ongoing Accessibility considered at design/development stage.


At NAB we’re working to make everything we do online as usable and accessible as we can for everyone.

To help us achieve this, we've been using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines explain how to make web content more accessible for people with disabilities, and user friendly for everyone.

The guidelines have three levels of accessibility (A, AA and AAA).

As specified in our Accessibility Action Plan, we’re working towards level AA for nab.com.au.


We’re committed to making the content of this site accessible to the widest possible audience, including those:

  • Using assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnifiers
  • Who are unable to use the mouse
  • Dependent on the accessibility features of their web browser.

We strive to conform to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and to comply with Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0. Our site depends on the use of JavaScript for security purposes and some other functions.


(Another PDF file)

Best practice World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Standards WCAG 2.0 and Australian Bankers Association’s (ABA) accessibility guidelines have been incorporated across the development of anz.com, internet banking and telephone banking.

The checklist

So what's the end result? Well it’s really a business decision. Here’s a good simple checklist of the three levels.

The levels

The three levels; A, AA and AAA are realistically, exponentially harder to achieve. The key I like to make about the levels is that A is generally achievible with a good site. When you start to move into AA and above I like to use the house analogy:

If you build highly accessible house, you need ramps, railings, assistive devices, you may even need a chair lift for the stairs.

Therefore level AA and AAA are now visual changes you will make to your site. It's past the stage of good coding. Let's have a look at some of the key items from a WCAG 2.0 checklist.

Level A:

As you can see, even Level A has some pretty big stuff in it:

  • Captions for video
  • Text transcripts or audio descriptions for media
  • Website can be navigated by keyboard only

Some of these are outside your web developers control too (like video captions).

Level AA:

Another step up, this checklist is where the site is visually affected by compliance:

  • Users can resize text up to 200% (doesn’t appear to be on the Westpac site)
  • No images of text where text can be used (Meaning no text in images in promotional banners!)
  • Ensure keyboard focus is visible (doesn’t appear to be consistent on the Westpac site)

Level AAA:

You’ll have to go here for level AAA items.

There’s get pretty serious:

  • A sign language video is provided for all media content that contains audio.
  • Blocks of text over one sentence in length:
    • Are no more than 80 characters wide.
    • Are NOT fully justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins).
    • Do NOT require horizontal scrolling when the text size is doubled.
  • The content and functionality has no time limits or constraints. (No sessions timeouts!)
  • Interruptions (alerts, page updates, etc.) can be postponed or suppressed by the user.
  • A more understandable alternative is provided for content that is more advanced than can be reasonably read by a person with roughly 9 years of primary education. (This could be tough with banking products!)

The list goes on, but as you can see, these are serious requirements.


NSW Government has adopted WCAG 2.0 and is on a roadmap to AA compliance at the end of 2014, but consistently gets smashed for not practising what they preach (granted this is a year old).

People underestimate the work needed to achieve these levels of compliance.

Loosely speaking, if a site needs to be Level AA or above, I need to start putting accessibility controls on the website (e.g. the tools in the top of Guide Dogs Australia)

And naturally, each level comes with its ever increasing level of effort to meet.