“No one is left behind”: UBank’s Accessibility Kit to bring financial empowerment for all

Ceyda Erem

04 Feb 2020

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Checking your bank balance, making transfers between friends or topping up your savings account are all daily banking habits of many Australians. 

But for some Aussies, effective money management requires a little more than a nifty looking app. 

According to the Australian Network on Disability, one in five Australians have some form of a disability, with 357,000 alone experiencing low vision.

And today, online lender, UBank, has unveiled its brand new Accessibility Kit that’s set to revolutionise digital accessibility around the world. 

Digital accessibility is defined as a website or mobile application's ability to be used and understood by users who have a visual, auditory, cognitive or motor disability. 

For example, a screen reader may be put in place for a user who has a visual disability and is unable to interact with content on a screen.

While it was originally developed as an internal testing tool, the Accessibility Kit will be released worldwide to over 40 million developers via GitHub, a software sharing platform. 

And according to Chief Product Officer, Digital Banking at UBank, Peter O'Malley the decision to share the tool with other developers around the world was a no-brainer. 

“When you speak to customers who have these needs, you realise that not everyone is actually looking at this space,” he said. 

“Our hope is that we start a conversation with other teams that are building apps and educate them or help them educate themselves on what makes good design from an accessibility standpoint. Whether that’s UBank customers or people who are using apps, [customers] have a much better digital experience.”

How the UBank Accessibility Kit works and what it means for UBank customers 

Aside from being free to download, the Accessibility Kit works instantly and performs an audit of a developer’s accessibility features in their own app. 

The Accessibility Kit then checks and flags any accessibility issues, such as text types, colour contrast, touch points and even brand colours. From there a developer can make adjustments to their app to make sure it complies with accessibility criteria. 

Under the Digital Discrimination Act 1992, any individual or organisation designing a website or app in Australia is requried to provide equal access for people with disabilities. Failing to do so or refusing to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ could be seen as discrimination. 

Additionally, poor digital design can make tools less effective and even hinder a person’s ability to interact with an app or website. 

O’Malley went on to explain that improved voiceover is an area the UBank banking app will experience an accessibility upgrade. 

“If you don’t have correct labelling in terms of names relevant to the thing or or icon you’re focused on, they’re not read out in the right way and it becomes a very confusing experience to someone who has a bad vision impairment and relies on voice over,” he said. 

Other than helping developers around the globe comply with accessibility requirements, UBank CEO, Glen Aiton believes the Accessibility Kit will help promote financial empowerment for all. 

“In making UBank’s Accessibility Kit publicly available, we want to ensure technology fulfils its purpose – to connect people and make everyone’s lives better,” he said. 

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