By Victor Schwartzman
April 25, 2014
Have a challenge which becomes much more challenging when trying to access your financial institution online?
A recent article by Marketwired (http://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/banking-on-website-accessibility-lawsuits/) reported on the startling lack of support for assistive technology by many American banks on their web sites. A link at the end of the article showed a few Canadian financial institutions.
In response to the lack of support for such technology on Canadian financial institution websites, a spokesperson from the Canadian Financial Institution Working Group On Website Access Response Issues recently held a joint media conference with Minister Eric Hoskins (responsible for accessibility legislation in Ontario).
The spokesperson for CFIWGOWARI opened the conference by stating that First, the article is wrong. It is wrong in that it assumes that the lack of access to our websites is a mistake. It is not a mistake. Canadian financial institutions do not make mistakes.
Well, investing in bad mortgages, that was a mistake. Pension funds gambling in the stock market, that was a mistake. But keeping our websites not accessible has not been a mistake. It is deliberate and it has worked, and we are here today to tell you we are proud of it.
Minister Hoskins nodded. If people could easily access their own money, it might give them ideas. Not on different ways to spend their own money. We make sure their pension and employment programmes dont allow them to have enough money to have different ways to spend it.
But if they won with the banks, they might want other sites made accessible. Government sites. Business sites. And while at first we thought the internet was great because people would stay at home at their computers and away from us, actually it kind of backfired. People talk to each other now more than ever! If I may be honest, for a moment, accessing the web has been the worst thing for Governments since the printing press.
With the internet, we saw the floodgates being opened. The access floodgates.
We have had to deal with floodgates which opened on pollution and temporary foreign workers and government accountability. Did we really need to have the floodgates open on accessibility? Was Ontario ready for AccessiGate?
We thought not, which is what we usually do, Minister Hoskins stated.
That was when the Government approached us, the spokesperson added, and asked us to do our part for the public good. No one wanted an AccessiGate. So the programme known as Website Inaccess was developed and has been the most successful example of cooperation between the Government and the financial industry, after offshore tax havens.
Under the Website Inaccess programme, we did our part by keeping our sites barely accessible or not at all. To do their banking, people with disabilities are forced to come into our branches. Ironically, we have closed down many of our branches because so much can now be done online.
We would do more for people with disabilities if they had any money, but generally they dont so we wont, the spokesperson concluded.
Life is always a challenge for people with challenges, Minister Hoskins said. But it is important to prevent an AccessiGate. For example, regarding AODA, I see no need to insist financial institutions under our legislation have completely accessible websites.
That would be too much access. Perhaps some people did not understand when we said about access legislation and AODA, there cannot be too much access in Ontario. Some people thought we meant there cannot be ENOUGH access.
No, we meant there cannot be too much access. And as you can see, we have stuck to our word. We have worked hard to ensure there cannot be too much access in Ontario by not implementing AODA. We will continue by limiting access to the internet and your own money!
There cannot be too much access in Ontario!
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Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to http://www.targetaudiencemagazine.com. and does an on-air review monthly for the World Poetry Café on CFRO-FM in Vancouver. He has had poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is email@example.com.