How innovation for accessibility can help everyone

Many businesses approach acceptance of people with disability as a means to develop a community connection, but the true business case for tackling discrimination is more straightforward.  People with a disability are consumers, investors and employees and by addressing barriers a business can increase its market for customers and employees.

" By considering the needs of everyone, customer-centric innovations can emerge which offer more inclusive products and services benefitting everyone in the community."
Darren Baird & Steve Price, Head of Innovation, Design and Experience & Senior Manager, Everyday Banking at ANZ

In fact, by considering the needs of everyone, customer-centric innovations can emerge which offer more inclusive products and services benefitting everyone in the community.

Disability is relevant to almost all of us every single day, both professionally and personally, at work and amongst our families, friends and the communities we live in.

There are over one billion people globally living with some form of disability around the world, with rates rising due to ageing populations and increases in chronic health conditions. In Australia, one in 13 people at the age of 15 live with a disability or long-term health condition, with the rate increasing up to around one in two by the age of 75. That’s a significant number of people whose lives are affected.

The biggest barrier faced by many is attitudes. By raising awareness of disability issues, we can tackle discrimination experienced by people with a disability, thereby increasing their integration into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

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Vision Australia recently assisted ANZ to gain feedback on new design features of debit and credit cards. Features such as high-visibility leading edges, tactile indicators and contactless payment technology will be introduced in 2016 to help customers who are blind or have low vision.

VA said participants commended ANZ on taking a step forward in making the cards more accessible. In addition, the accessible features were seen as making the cards more accessible for others, such as the elderly or people who have trouble reading.

“You just don’t expect it because we’re just used to the world not being made accessible for us at all,” one participant said.

Barclays Bank in the UK has demonstrated exceptional leadership and a strong commitment to improving accessibility.

Barclays offers a range of accessible banking services to provide support for its customers and promotes these via its website, social media and advertising.

Barclays’ “Digital Eagles” program targets elderly customers and supports them to build confidence to use computers and the internet in a welcoming environment.  This is going a long way to help Barclays connect customers and the community with banking and the latest technology, in turn creating real and lasting value.


Advances in technology are affording greater potential for creating accessible services for customers with a disability.

In the past, people with vision impairment needed special, expensive, software to read screens on computers. Since the proliferation of smartphone technology, Apple and Google have continued to imbed and improve accessibility features into their software (and it's free!).

Smartphone devices have changed the way people with vision impairment live, offering greater independence and mobility.  For example, magnification apps help people with low vision read labels and there are ‘virtual’ eyes apps able to recognise faces and even the expressions people have.

Apple has had a long-running commitment to accessibility and its products offer a variety of assistive technologies as standard. VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader to Mac, IOS devices, Apple Watch and Apple TV which lets users who are blind or have low vision control their device.  Siri and Dictation can help them type, launch apps, and read calendars.

Those who have hearing or speech difficulties can communicate nonverbally via video calls using sign language and facial expression.  People with physical and motor challenges can use AssistiveTouch in iOS to enter common Multi-Touch gestures, like pinch, with just one finger.

These technologies also open up new capabilities for us to improve the accessibility of banking services.  Both ANZ’s goMoney and Grow by ANZ mobile banking applications are designed to take advantage of services such as voiceover technology to provide a superior, accessible customer experience.

Last month, ANZ became the only major Australian Bank to offer Apple Pay to its customers, enabling them to pay easily and securely by using their iPhone. The service takes full advantage of Apple’s accessibility features.

It’s clear from these examples products or services made accessible for people with a disability can make them more accessible for everyone, benefitting both the consumers and business.

Customer-centric innovations can offer increasingly accessible services for customers with a disability.

“I was so delighted when I discovered I could view my share trading on the Grow by ANZ app. This had been a source of frustration for me for many years.” - Graeme Innes AM, former Disability Discrimination Commissioner and now Chair of the Attitude Foundation

“ApplePay is amazing. It is the first time I have ever been able to actually know what I have spent without having to get someone to read the receipt after the fact.” - Hamish MacKenzie, ANZ’s Global Accessibility Manager

Darren Baird is Head of Innovation Design and Experience at ANZ and Steve Price is Senior Manager Everyday Banking at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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