Hundreds of potential customers could be disadvantaged as financial services websites do not conform to the Disability Discrimination Act.
Of six randomly selected home pages of life / protection providers only one met the minimum requirements for disabled persons accessibility under UK guidelines.
Money Marketing used an online accessibility module created by Watchfire to test the sites. Skandia runs checks frequently on its site and tests showed 90 per cent of its pages meet the legal requirements for the DDA and all minimum requirements.
Prudential, Scottish Widows, Bright Grey, Legal & General and Liverpool Victoria all do not comply on several counts including the overuse of colours and images to convey information, identifying headers missing in data tables and the use of obsolete language.
In the Web Accessibility Initiative, all publicly accessed websites must be compliant, with section 19 making it unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against access.
Where a service provider fails to makes reasonable adjustments and therefore fails to comply with the legal requirements for website accessibility a disable person or representative can initiate a claim against the web site owner.
Bright Grey communications manager Mark Locke says: “We are looking into the regulation and DDA requirements and will be making changes as appropriate.”
Scottish Widows marketing manager Colin Watt says: “We have been working to address accessibility issues. We are introducing a new content management system this year which will address most remaining issues. Scottish Widows websites contain a lot of functionality so this is not an overnight job. However, we are confident that by quarter 3 2005 we will have made major advances.”