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IT issues on 666 ABC Canberra Drive with Keri Phillips each Wednesday at 5:50pm
With Tom Worthington FACS, Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University
Two initiatives have recently been introduced in Australia to make electronic banking easier and less worrying:
New Electronic Funds Transfer Code of Conduct
A new Electronic Funds Transfer Code of Conduct for banks came in to force 1 April 2002:
The EFT Code is a code of practice which sets out rules about how electronic funds transfers should work. Businesses may choose whether to sign up to the Code. If they do, they must follow the Code in their dealings with you.
From The EFT Code - Section A of Your Guide to the EFT Code, ASIC, 26/03/2002
The new code covers computer/mobile phone internet banking. Unfortunately the code is provided in PDF format and so very difficult to read on the web. There is an easy to read guide online: with examples such as "What if you use an account aggregation service?":
Some account aggregation services require you to give them your PIN or password. If you do this, then you should check with your account institution whether this will mean you will be liable for any unauthorised transactions that result. You will not be liable if your account institution promotes, endorses, or authorises the account aggregation service that you use or explicitly gives you permission to tell the aggregator your PIN or password.
Internet Banking Standard
The Australian Bankers' Association launched a set of standards to help people with disabilities and older Australians use electronic banking on 15 April 2002:
This document addresses Internet Banking technologies and provides a set of standards for their design, deployment and operation. All organisations providing services to the general public are obliged by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to ensure that online information and services are accessible by people with disabilities...
These guidelines are primarily aimed at making web content and applications accessible to people with disabilities, however they also make web content more accessible to other users with technical constraints (eg, people using a low speed Internet connection).
Internet Banking, Australian Bankers' Association Industry Standard, ABA, (undated)
Some examples from the standard:
So people can find their way around a web site:
22.214.171.124 Textual Overview/Site Map Customer sites shall contain a link containing a textual overview of the site layout and structure. This is essentially a non-visual site map, and will assist users to understand the philosophy of the site, and improve their navigation through it. (See the Australian Tax Office's Assist site as an example http://www.ato.gov.au).
To make on-line documents easier to read:
126.96.36.199 Equivalents to PDF
All new documents made available online in PDF format, shall also be made available in HTML, RTF or another suitable text format...
But the standard is provided in Microsoft Word format, which is harder to read for the general public than normal web pages in HTML and not one of the formats specified in the standard.
Banks are required to comply within six months:
11.1.1 W3C Compliance
Websites shall, with the allowable exception of checkpoint 6.3, meet the sixteen W3C WCAG V1.0 Priority 1 checkpoints within six months of the release date of this Standard, either by compliance with the checkpoint, or stipulation of the checkpoint as not applicable. See http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html.
The standard is similar to that adopted by Australian Governments for web sites in June 2000:
The Council agreed to the adoption of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as the common best practice standard for all Australian government websites...
From Ministers from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments met in Adelaide today for the seventh Ministerial meeting of the Online Council. JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT Friday 30 June 2000
The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines cover aspects such as making sure pictures have captions (for those who can't see the pictures):
1.1 Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content). This includes: images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), image map regions, animations (e.g., animated GIFs), applets and programmatic objects, ascii art, frames, scripts, images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video, and video.
Companies which make web software are introducing features to help with accessibility. One is paying me to help. ;-)
This series of documents provides an overview of resources available to make the web more accessible to people with a disability. Macromedia accessibility solutions are designed for Web developers that are relatively new to Web design and those with advanced Web design expertise. A full range of tools, tutorials, white papers, case studies, webcasts and seminars and our Accessibility Suite are all available for free ...
Macromedia Accessibility Solutions for Australia, by Tom Worthington for Macromedia, Version 2.1, 8 February 2002
Comments and corrections to: email@example.com
Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001-2002.