The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has broadened the scope of its accessibility framework to make sure the banking sector remains inclusive in the digital landscape.

Speaking at a media event to launch details of upgrades to the Accessibility and Inclusion Principles for Banking Services, ABA CEO Anna Bligh said the updates have been developed to ensure 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 customers with disability and their carers can easily use them,” Bligh said. 

Taking part in a panel discussion at the event were Australian Human Rights president Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, Westpac head of Access & Inclusion Majella Knobel and Australian Network on Disability head of strategy, Amber O’Shea.

An important addition is a section on embedding accessibility into digital authentication processes, as the banking industry steps up its battle against scams, fraud and identity theft. “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,” Bligh said.  

“Our society is walking very quickly towards a digital economy and nowhere is this so true than in banking. While it is important to keep up, we must make sure when doing so that we leave no one behind.”

The 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, disability advocates and the technology sector. People with disability were also part of the review.  

Key areas of change are:  

  • Expansion of the section on Artificial Intelligence (AI) so banks can make sure accessibility considerations are enhanced not diminished by AI   
  • New sections which expand on how accessibility can be achieved through digital communications, including when banks inform customers about issues such as interest rate changes
  • New committments to make sure hardware like banking terminals and ATMs are designed and run to be easy to use for customers with disability
  • 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 
  • 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.   

Amber O’Shea said the organisation was 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,” she 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.

Photo: Anna Bligh, Majella Knobel, Amber O’Shea and Rosalind Croucher