My Opening Farewell or Citibank in the Rear View Mirror

The penultimate tune on Bonnie Raitt’s Road Tested is a track titled My Opening Farewell. Ending a relationship with a financial institution is hardly fraught with the emotional angst of the end of a love relationship but severing the entanglements can often be as tough.

 

Well good old Citibank, you and I are through. Farewell after more than 24 years of a credit card relationship, five years of a mortgage relationship (love the resale of mortgages) and 20 years of a banking relationship started when you were a pioneer in online banking. You’ve told me one too many times to go to my nearest branch, which in case you didn’t understand the concept of online banking any longer, is more than 900 miles away. And when the latest episode of nonsense was the result of you old Citibank putting a block on a savings account indicating checks shouldn’t be written against it for reasons you’ve yet to explain, well like I said we are just through. Given you opened the account over the phone and it was impossible to write checks for an account for which I had no checks, does it make any sense to block transfer of funds from the account?

 

Oh yes but there’s still my favorite from 1998 when one of your representatives in all seriousness told me if I wanted a cashier’s check to make a down payment on a house at the time my best option was to fly to New York City and get the check. And to think I gave you another dozen years. Fool or forgiving, I’m not sure which one that makes me but enough is enough and I’ve reached my limit.

 

Transfers have been started, signature cards mailed and research on other options is in full swing. So Citibank, consider this my opening farewell and nice to have known you but I’m on to a world that understands what the online in online banking really means.

Accessibility Issues Still Too Easy To Find on MLB.com – Explain images/trans

MLB has been getting loads of positive commentary in the accessibility community of late. While I’m glad to see the organization step up to the plate as it were and start to take accessibility seriously, it is still far too easy to find basic accessibility issues wrong with the main MLB web site.

 

Take a browse to an offering to play fantasy baseball for example and count the number of instances of text such as images/trans or perhaps mlb/fantasy/wsfb/index.jsp or another variation depending on how your screen reader handles missing alternative text for actionable links. By my count there are at least three instances of this problem and the bigger issue is that the links in question lead to different locations. This is not some esoteric side feature, 3rd party text or something else beyond the immediate control of MLB. So while I’m delighted to see MLB getting into the accessibility game, I’d like to see basics like these sorts of issues already fixed because they are just so obviously wrong and disconcerting to the basic user trying to sort out where to go on the site in my experience.

Two Positive Accessibility Wins

I’ve mentioned several times here that I’m a big fan of Lainey Feingold’s work on accessibility. The Structured Negotiations process used has proven to pay dividends time and again in moving accessibility forward.

 

Two recent announcements from Lainey highlight the road this work often travels.

 

First is an announcement that all Bank of America ATMs in the U.S. are now talking ATMs. This represents more than 18,000 ATM installations and covers more than 15 years of effort since the bank was initially contacted about accessibility. Sure it has taken a long time and a big part of me wishes we never had to go to these efforts to achieve accessibility, but success is still success and when is the last time we could say “all” of anything met any accessibility definition?

 

Last week at CSUN I was talking about accessible ATMs with a few different people and will say here what I said to those individuals. I think the progress that has been made over the last several years on accessible ATMs is one of the better examples of how accessibility has moved forward from across the spectrum of areas where people have made attempts at improvements. The vast majority of ATMs today seem to at least have audio output and back when I used my first ATM in 1985, audio just wasn’t around. It is often hard to measure the positive of accessibility and like many I’ve used ATMs with relative success without audio. But the degree of confidence and independence I feel when I slide my headphone set into the audio jack on a talking ATM is the feeling I want when I use any technology.

 

And to be clear, using an ATM without audio access is only relatively successful. It requires memorization of a set pattern of key presses as just one limitation. Good luck if the prompts change as they seem to the one time you really need to use the machine.

 

The second success is an announcement that Best Buy will start adding tactile keypads to their point-of-sale devices, meaning individuals who are blind can independently enter PINs when making purchases at the stores. This is the way it should be. Conducting business shouldn’t require anyone to reveal this level of personal information to anyone else and should support full independence.

 

Press releases detail several involved in the progress here so congratulations to one and all. And make no mistake, while accessibility efforts like this tend to garner the headlines, I know many who work equally as hard making progress in other arenas and those folks deserve equal credit for what they do.