Easier for Who?

It has been more than a year since people from Washington and several other western states have been able to obtain free copies of their credit reports. Over the past year, citizens of the rest of the nation have had the same access made available in a staged process. As a recent article in the Seattle times points out, the process hasn’t been perfect but according to the article things should be getting easier. I must ask, “Easier for who?”
The legislation making free access to credit reports is something that we should have had years ago. With the number of companies using the details of your credit report it is vital that you know what it contains, especially because sometimes there are inaccuracies. I know in my case back when I was living in Portland, there happened to be another Kelly Ford living in the same apartment complex as me and some of that person’s bad debts did appear on my credit report at one point. It was a major effort to get them removed.
That’s in part why I’m a big fan of the required access to your credit report. Sadly in the year that the process for this has been in place, there’s been no progress on accessibility to the report request process or the reports themselves.
Obtaining a copy of your credit report requires you to go to the official web site to start the request at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Aside from basic accessibility flaws like missing alternative text for images, the web site uses the increasingly common visual word verification test in the initial stage of the request process. With no alternative, such as audio of the graphical word to be entered that is used on some web sites, you are locked out if you are blind.
True you can request a copy of your report by phone or e-mail. Thus far my attempts to use these methods have not proved to lead to any greater accessibility as there’s no provision that I can find in these methods to get an actual accessible copy of the credit report. By contrast the online process will lead you to an online version of your report that is more or less accessible. Still it shouldn’t be necessary to get someone else to assist in the process at all, especially for government-mandated access to personal information.
I hope others reading this will consider writing to the editorial staff of the Seattle Times as I have done asking them to cover the accessibility aspects of this issue. Letters can be sent to opinion@seattletimes.com and must include day and evening phone numbers as well as your full name and home address. The paper’s web site gives full details.
In the past year I’ve exchanged several e-mails and phone conversations with officials from various congressional offices for the house and senate of Washington State. Thus far I’ve been unsuccessful at getting any politician to take a serious interest in this issue. In my view the process and credit reports one obtains should be 100% accessible and individuals with disabilities should be able to obtain and access the information independently.