TD launches new accessibility tool to drive inclusive online experiences for users

Digital Reinvention
29/03/2023 News

TD Bank Group (TD) announced the launch of a new innovative accessibility tool to create more inclusive and accessible user experiences, starting with its colleagues. Created by TD Lab, an innovation group at TD that collaborates with businesses across the Bank, TD Adapted Accessibility empowers users to personalize websites to address accessibility preferences and needs, without requiring expensive assistive technologies.

The new tool, designed as a browser plug-in, gives accommodation controls back to the user – enabling them to personalize their online experience without using overlays that can impact usability.

Some of the accessibility preferences users will be able to choose from include reading guides, adjustable font size, dark mode, a dyslexia-friendly font, bionic reading and monochrome mode. The tool is explicitly designed to co-exist with other assistive technologies, such as standalone screen magnification software– a feature not currently prioritized by other online accessibility tools in the market.

"When we think about accessibility, it's often with respect to meeting accessibility requirements but I think we can do better than that," said Samantha Estoesta, Product Manager – Social Innovation Specialization at TD and Product Owner of the TD Adapted Accessibility tool. "For real inclusion, we should be looking at making experiences – experiences that some of us take for granted – seamless for everyone. With the TD Adapted Accessibility tool, we have an opportunity to do that in our online spaces. As a person with disabilities, being able to work on this tool is a testament to the role that TD plays in inclusive innovation."

It is estimated that 20% of the population surveyed relies on assistive technologies to access the online world.  Even outside of that group, user preferences lean towards more accessible options when they are available. For example, 27% of the global online population surveyed is using voice search on mobile and 85% of Facebook videos are watched with closed captions on and sound off. Additionally, many online users look for ways to change the look of their online platforms – typically to reduce eye strain – with an estimated 75% to 95% of smartphone users surveyed using dark mode in some way and almost 67% of people surveyed also reportedly expecting sites to automatically apply a dark theme.

The TD Adapted Accessibility tool will be piloted in the U.S. with TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank (AMCB)'s front-line Retail colleagues. The tool will be integrated into a new modernized retail platform for colleagues to better serve customers across all channels.

"Our goal is to deliver best-in-class technology to help enable our colleagues and deliver legendary experiences for our customers," said Greg Keeley, Senior Executive Vice President, Platforms and Technology, TD Bank Group. "Accessibility is a key component of that technology journey. We're thrilled about the opportunity to deploy this widget across the TD ecosystem, ultimately empowering our colleagues through an inclusive technology experience."

The pilot will include over 6,000 retail colleagues currently using a new modernized retail platform and will be available to all users regardless of whether they have self-identified their requirements or preferences. The pilot participation is expected to increase to nearly 10,000 U.S. TD colleagues by the end of 2023.

"Store colleagues across our Maine to Florida footprint come to work each day to help make an impact on the lives of our customers," said Ernie Diaz, Head of Consumer Distribution, U.S. Wealth and TD Auto Finance, TD Bank. "Making it easier for these front-line teams to do their jobs – including proactively providing accessibility options to everyone – is not only the right thing to do, it's critical to their ability to deliver legendary experiences to our customers."

TD will run the second phase of the pilot alongside longtime collaborator, Disability:IN, the world's largest organization dedicated to driving disability inclusion in business today. The pilot will build upon the Bank's internal testing to ensure that the tool is ready for market consumption. Ultimately, TD intends to make the tool available to its customers, recognizing the importance of hyper-personalizing the banking experience.

A Commitment to Inclusive Innovation

This announcement follows a wide range of initiatives initiated by the Bank that help support colleagues, customers and communities through inclusive technology and innovation including:

• In 2022, TD Lab launched the Equity Resource Hub, a free open-source solution that helps teams from any organization include a clear equity lens into their processes, projects and solutions during development as a way to help address unconscious bias. First used internally, and then extended to individuals and organizations outside the Bank, for free, via open-source access. TD Lab, based in Communitech, is a public-private innovation hub in the region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, designed to explore innovation, with a particular focus on customer experience, entrepreneurship, growth, international business development and women in technology.

 In 2022, TD Bank launched TD Workshop in Philadelphia, offering a fully functional store, community centre, research lab and brainstorm room to help gather customer and community feedback on new Bank products and services in a dedicated space.

• In 2022, TD committed both funding and the expertise of its Digital and Research teams to the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation in Toronto to help create the Virtual Centre for Cancer Support brought to you by TD. The Centre is designed to help upwards of 10,000 individuals and families navigating through cancer each year.

• In 2021, TD integrated Aira in all TD Bank stores, optimizing independence and accessibility for blind and low-vision individuals. Through the TD Bank initiative with Aira, TD Bank customers receive free access to Aira technology and service in all of the Bank's 1,100+ stores from Maine to Florida.

• In March 2023, TD Bank Group in collaboration with Video Relay Services (VRS), introduced a new dedicated phone line for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing which allows individuals to leverage their VRS application when completing their remote banking needs.

"To provide a truly personalized experience for our customers and colleagues, inclusion and equity need to be a priority in everything we do," said Rizwan Khalfan, Chief Digital and Payments Officer, TD Bank Group. " I'm proud of the work that TD Lab, our Technology and Store team and other teams across the Bank, have done to help innovate with inclusion in mind."

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