Accessibility Insights with Paul Smyth from Barclays: September 2020

Date of webinar: 
8 Sep 2020 - 13:00

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Image of Robin Christopherson and Paul Smyth

This webinar took place on Tuesday 8 September 2020, 1pm BST

We welcomed Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility at Barclays, as part of our new Accessibility Insights webinar series.

Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet hosts a monthly online chat with individuals who are each working to improve digital accessibility and digital inclusion.

Robin (pictured above, left) chatted with Paul Smyth MBE (above, right), founder and leader of Digital Accessibility at Barclays. He’s an international expert and thought leader, helping address technological barriers faced by disabled customers or staff. 
On the webinar recording below, they discuss:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted Barclays customers and staff 
  • Where accessible banking is heading
  • How Barclays embeds accessibility at scale
  • How the accessibility profession is evolving 

Over recent years Paul’s led on a number of firsts for accessible banking, including talking ATMs, high visibility debit cards and regularly performing disabled user testing across the Barclays website and mobile app. He’s also helped overhaul their Workplace Adjustments process to support staff with disabilities to be as productive as possible.
Barclays has shifted the culture from accessibility being perceived as a legal requirement to a commercial opportunity. Many of its accessibility resources are shared externally to help support other businesses on their own accessibility journey.
Paul sits on several boards and advisory panels for disability charities and in 2019 was appointed as a disability sector champion for web accessibility by the UK government’s Disability Minister. He’s also a co-chair of the Business Disability Forum Technology Taskforce, encouraging organisations to work together to make technology work for everyone. In 2020 Paul was awarded an MBE for services to disability inclusion within banking.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @pa79smyth

Webinar recording, podcast and transcript

A captioned webinar recording of the session, transcript and the slidedeck are provided below, with a podcast recording to follow soon.

Questions and answers

Attendees were able to submit their questions for Paul and Robin during the live webinar, with answers provided below:

Q: How are customers with extra needs prioritised when they are in a phone queue to speak to a customer rep?

A: (Paul) Customers who’ve informed us of their disability or vulnerability or who have primarily done their banking in branch are prioritised when using telephone banking.

Q: For people who are disabled they may be the last ones to stop shielding - have you made adjustments to access ATMs or for the generation that prefer face to face banking the closing of banks may impact too?

A: (Paul) Agreed that banks need to help those customers who have historically preferred to use bank branches and cash (-a long tail). Enhancements that we’ve made such as improving the accessibility of ATMs is key to ensure customers can do their banking independently and barrier free. For those preferring face to face interactions, video banking has proven very popular for handling queries or making big life decisions, like buying a home. Bank branches will need to adapt to lower footfall and a different set of more complex needs that customers come into branch wanting help with.

Q: How do you get suppliers on board with accessibility? Also, how do you get accessibility pushed up the priority list when there are budget and time issues?

A: (Paul) Our supplier guide to accessibility is a great resource that we use to educate, encourage and require suppliers to be more accessible. This contains the business case. We have similar leader guides on accessibility which, along with staff training, help to ensure that accessibility gets the priority it deserves.

For additional information read answers to frequently asked questions about AbilityNet webinars.


Podcast recording