Accessible banking with Barclays

“The accessibility business case always boils down to three things: the legal requirements, the commercial opportunity and the moral imperative," said Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility at Barclays, sharing his thoughts as part of our Accessibility Insights webinar series.

"Often organisations may be lazy and see accessibility as something legally you have to do, but they need to think more broadly and deeply about what it means and why it matters. At Barclays, we now have a public ambition to be the most accessible company," said Paul.

Watch the full webinar below and download the transcript

Highlights from the webinar

Paul went on further to discuss how Barclays is making its services accessible to the public and its employees: "It’s about making sure that all people can use our banking products and services and be employed by us, regardless of their abilities, their situation, their circumstance."

In the webinar, Paul joined Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, who hosts a monthly online chat with individuals that are working to improve digital accessibility and digital inclusion.
During the session they also discussed:

  • 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

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 transcript of the session, podcast, and the slidedeck used during the webinar, are provided below.

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


Date of webinar: 
8 Sep 2020 - 13:00