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    For as long as they’ve been a part of modern business, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing new to learn about institutional websites. However, the realm of online marketing is ever-changing as well as the laws and regulations that evolve along with it.

    One of these being the new credit union ADA compliances that have been of particular note as of late. Fail to take them into account, and you could be just the latest in a growing line of recent lawsuit targets.

    What these ADA compliances are

    With the immense growth of the internet nearly everything has become more accessible. When you hear accessible design, you might think of mobile devices at first, but the ADA compliances are all about accessibility to users with a disability. Every user should have equal access to the resources available on your site.

    The new ADA regulations are making that a federal law.

    Why it matters

    Until recently, there wasn’t yet a solid guidebook as to what makes a credit union website ADA-compliant. Now, however, more information is starting to get published that is worth keeping up-to-date with. In general, the more accessible you make your site to visitors with disabilities, the lower your risk of receiving a complaint and even legal action.

    The financial sector which you’re a part of is one that requires even more diligence. You can very easily be held accountable if information that’s considered vital to your customer’s ability to make wise decisions with their money isn’t accessible to them.

    You can’t afford another risk

    Already, banks, loan providers, and credit unions are at risk of having to pay customers back. Unsure loan terms, loan discrimination, having to repay fees and charges. These are all financial risks that even the most diligent credit union can fall into. Amongst all forms of businesses, financial institutions are the first and most-often targeted when it comes to lawsuits and legal pressure to return money.

    It’s easy to consider yourself safe due to a lack of firm, established website accessibility standards. However, there are already hundreds of lawsuits being processed alleging that the websites for many financial institutions aren’t accessible enough. Beyond the thousands upon thousands of dollars you could spend on compensation, there are the legal fees to consider both for the credit union and for the lawyers of any customers that might become complainants. It’s not a risk worth courting.

    Getting ready

    While regulators haven’t yet decided on a set of rigid website accessibility standards, there’s still a lot of reading to do. The ADA has published their own, openly-published best practices toolkit under Title II of the ADA. Others, such as WebAIM, have published information on the widely used Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. It’s worth taking both sets of guidelines into account, rather than to assume that the finalized standards will be laxer. There are even website checkers that can help you pre-emptively spot any concerns on your own page.

    What to do

    The guidelines mentioned above and the hugely effective checkers on the internet will be able to give you much more specific details on what might be wrong with your site. However, here are a few of the most pressing and noticeable concerns:

    • Images without text equivalents: The internet is a multimedia tool, and images including infographics are used more and more to communicate more effectively. However, not having the same information represented in text could prove a barrier to, for instance, users with impaired vision that use text-to-voice.
    • Documents in accessible formats: If you have downloadable resources, don’t post them only as .PDF files, which can be difficult for sight-impaired people to use. Always offer a text-based format like .HTML and .RTF.
    • Lack of visual accessibility options: Those with vision impairments and color blindness need options for text-sizes, as well as color schemes. Otherwise, certain pages can be downright unreadable for them.
    • Inaccessible videos and other media: Videos, image galleries, and slideshows should have audio descriptions to make them more accessible.

    Using the resources named above can help you find many more concerns worth addressing.

    Accessibility in your web design has never been more important. Even beyond keeping you legally danger-free, a focus on accessibility makes your credit union look much more customer-driven, boosting trust and public reputation.

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