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Created on 22.11.2021

Digital accessibility: accessible banking for absolutely everyone

To ensure people with disabilities can use digital services as well, these services must be fully accessible. Nicole Hug from the E-Accessibility department at PostFinance outlines what needs to be done to achieve this, and why accessibility benefits everyone.

E-finance shows very clearly what digital accessibility means to the everyday lives of people with disabilities. “By using technological aids, such as a screen reader, blind people too are able to do everything that people with unimpaired vision can do when banking online with PostFinance, for instance make payments, change settings or access their overview of assets,” explains Nicole Hug, who works in the E-Accessibility department at PostFinance. Or, to put it another way: the broadly accessible e-finance allows everyone to manage their finances independently. It provides unrestricted access to anyone who wants to use it.

  • Sound: via a sound card
  • Touch: via arefreshable Braille display. A refreshable Braille display is a computer output device that translates characters intoBraille .

Source: www.marlem-software.de (German only)

Successfully recertified

As a federal government-associated entity, PostFinance is obliged under the Swiss Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to guarantee the full accessibility of all its digital services. Besides e-finance, this also applies to the website  The link will open in a new window postfinance.ch  and the PostFinance App. The company is consistently achieving this goal as highlighted by the fact it has repeatedly received awards from the Certification Authority “Access-for-all”. In November 2020, PostFinance was awarded the highest quality level, AA+, for the fifth time in a row for its website and e-finance. This successful recertification goes to show that PostFinance can maintain the same level of quality – despite rapid technological developments and the increasingly complex of this task, says Nicole Hug. Since 2009, she has been committed to digital accessibility at PostFinance, stressing: “We are always looking ahead to the next certification because, if we want it again next time, we have to stay focused.” By that point, the Certification Authority will be looking at apps as well for the very first time, which will include the PostFinance App. 

How digital services are made accessible

But how exactly do you ensure digital services are fully accessible? “There are all sorts of different methods: the most extensive are those aimed at blind people who use an aid like a screen reader,” she explains. As an example, she mentions the structure of texts at a code level. “When blind people peruse digital content with a screen reader, items such as headings, subheadings, lists and tables must be correctly labelled at code level. Only if this is achieved can blind people – who are unable to find their way visually around the structure of a text in the way people with unimpaired vision can – navigate a page successfully and access what they’re looking for.” There are also a number of methods that assist the partially sighted as well, ranging from larger fonts, the ability to scale content, right the way through to achieving the perfect contrast ratio between the colour of the background and the text. This also benefits older people, for instance, if their vision has deteriorated.

Accessibility in practice: three examples

Example 1: All videos at  postfinance.ch are subtitled to ensure the content is accessible to the hearing impaired. But subtitles are also important as they allow the videos to be viewed with the sound turned off. Not only that, but they can also help people to better understand what is being said.

Example 2: Graphics or images on the website that show relevant content have what are known as “alternative texts” embedded in their code that describe what’s in the graphic or text. These alternative texts are captured by the screen reader and read out loud.

Example 3: Access keys facilitate quick access to certain websites and content via the keyboard. This is of great benefit to users who prefer using the computer keyboard instead of the mouse. Using Access key 3 on the PostFinance website will, for instance, take you straight to the e-finance login page. There are also Access keys for e-finance.

Thinking in terms of accessibility from the get-go

In its commitment to achieving accessibility, PostFinance is guided by the P028 Swiss federal directive on the designing of accessible online services, which in turn refers to the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). “This comprehensive guide covers even the most rigorous requirements, and answers every question relating to digital accessibility. Wherever possible, we take these requirements into account from the very outset when creating digital content, and we make them part of the user experience,” explains Nicole Hug. This approach requires far less work than having to remove barriers after the event, but at the same time it does require awareness of the area and appropriate training, and not just internally – we also collaborate with agencies and development partners that work for PostFinance.

Raising awareness, providing advice, testing

And this is precisely what the E-Accessibility department is responsible for: it raises awareness, gives advice and organizes courses to make accessibility possible. Another important task it has is testing. Working together with the “Access-for-all” foundation, it inspects digital content at regular intervals or, in the case of new services, checks to see if they are accessible. “This actually involves us working with blind people who use aids, and the most rigorous requirements relate to these people. If we can meet these requirements, then that is most requirements met.”

Nicole Hug

Nicole Hug has been working in the E-Accessibility department with PostFinance since 2009.

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