ABA Updates and Broadens Accessibility Framework

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Original media release for the Australian Banking Association (8/12/2023).

Every Australian deserves equitable access to banking services. That’s why the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has broadened the scope of its accessibility framework to ensure the banking sector remains inclusive in a fast-changing digital landscape.  

“Updating and strengthening these principles is about making sure no one is left behind in a rapidly changing and increasingly digital world. The principles will provide a foundation for banks to design their physical and digital services so that customers with disability and their carers can use them easily,” Ms Bligh said. 

An important addition to the Accessibility and Inclusion Principles for Banking Services is a section on embedding accessibility into digital authentication processes, as the banking industry steps up its fight against scams, fraud and identity theft. 

“As the scams scourge grows increasingly complex, banks need to apply and maintain robust security measures, but it can’t come at the expense of our most vulnerable. These accessibility principles will help banks strike a balance between strong anti-scam security and inclusive access and product design.  

“Whether it is an AI chatbot, biometric security check, website, mobile app or telephone service, it is important that all banking services are intuitive, consistent and can be easily used by all customers with disability and their carers,” Ms Bligh said.  

The entire banking sector, including staff in frontline product and service design roles, were consulted during the review of the guidelines, overseen by the Australian Network on Disability. Advocates, the technology sector and, importantly, people with lived experience of disability were also part of the review.  

Additional key changes to the Principles include:  

  • a significant expansion of the section on Artificial Intelligence (AI) so banks can make sure accessibility considerations are enhanced not diminished by AI   
  • guidance for banks on how they can design accessible products and services such as a new app using a ‘co-design’ approach that seeks feedback from people with disability 
  • new sections which expand on how accessibility can be achieved through digital communications including when banks inform customers about important issues such as when interest rate changes   
  • new commitments to make sure hardware like banking terminals and ATMs are designed and run to be easy to use for customers with disabilities  
  • recognition that banks should commit to employment, retention and career development of people with disability.  
  • broadening the scope of the guideline to include carers for people with disability recognising their critical support roles   

Australian Network on Disability’s Head of Strategy Amber O’Shea said they were proud to support the co-design and development of the updated Principles.  

“These Principles will uphold the human rights of banking customers with disability and carers by ensuring they have the same opportunities and access as others,” Ms O’Shea said.  

“The voice of people with disability has been embedded into the design of these Principles reflecting the ABA and banking sector’s commitment to providing a positive and accessible experience for the community they serve.”   

The ABA’s Accessibility and Inclusion Principles for Banking Services can be downloaded here (PDF) and here (Word doc).