SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–June 10, 2003–Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), the nation’s #1 ranked Internet bank, today rolled out state-of-the-art online banking services on wellsfargo.com for people who are blind or visually impaired. Wells Fargo is the only financial institution to have its Web site certified by the National Federation of the Blind. Other organizations recently certified by the National Federation of the Blind include HP, a global technology provider, and the United States Social Security Administration.
“We’re delighted that Wells Fargo is the first financial services company to qualify for the National Federation of the Blind’s Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification (NVA). With today’s announcement, Wells Fargo is providing the blind and visually impaired with access to manage their finances more independently than ever before,” said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “For organizations to qualify for this certification, the National Federation of the Blind conducts a rigorous task-performance test of the primary functions of the organization’s site using at least two different screen access programs.”
Wells Fargo has re-structured its Web site to make online access to its products and services easier for blind and visually impaired customers – whether they want to conduct online banking, online bill pay or research talking ATM locations. Site enhancements include the ability for screen readers, which read the screen’s contents aloud, and other technologies such as screen magnifiers, which enlarge the screen’s font size, to better interface with wellsfargo.com.
According to 2001 statistics from the American Foundation for the Blind, there are 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States. In addition, research from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows that among blind and visually impaired Internet users:
— 87 percent use e-mail/instant messaging;
— 47 percent play games online;
— 82 percent search for information about products and services;
— 53 percent make online purchases;
— 73 percent look for news, weather or sports information;
— 39 percent search for health information; and,
— 31 percent search for government information.
“We’re pleased that Wells Fargo is broadly committed to the blind and visually impaired community,” said Carl Augusto, president and chief executive officer of the American Foundation for the Blind. “Wells Fargo also serves as a model in hiring and empowering blind and visually impaired team members with leading edge technology and resources that help them succeed in their jobs.”
Wells Fargo has 3,300 talking ATMs across 23 states, most of which also offer Spanish audio. Additional services designed to enhance accessibility at Wells Fargo include, among others, hearing-impaired text telephone (TDD) customer service; materials in large print or Braille; and accessible store locations as outlined below.
Online Accessibility at wellsfargo.com
Wells Fargo is committed to providing a satisfying and meaningful online user experience for people who are blind or visually impaired. In 2002, Wells Fargo focused on accessibility improvements for the most popular wellsfargo.com pages. Wells Fargo will continue to enhance online accessibility throughout this year, including:
— An accessibility help page. Customers will be able to determine which browser and screen reader setting enhances access to wellsfargo.com Web pages.
— Pages with invisible skip navigation links. Customers using screen reader software will be able to select these links to go to the main content of a page.
— Pages with invisible accessibility help links. For customers using screen reader software, these links will go to the accessibility help page.
Wells Fargo ATMs
To make Wells Fargo automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible, Wells Fargo offers:
— Braille on all its ATMs.
— Monophonic earphones. These allow private delivery of voice information at talking ATMs, to protect the security of blind and visually impaired users.
— Physical access. Wells Fargo ATMs meet The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) height and reach requirements.
— Talking ATMs with voice instructions. Working in collaboration with the California Council of the Blind, Wells Fargo announced a plan in June 1999 to develop and install talking ATMs.
Materials for Blind or Visually Impaired Customers
Customers can call 1-800 TO-WELLS (1-800-869-3557) to order the following materials free of charge (except checks):
— Raised-line checks. These checks are larger than standard checks, are yellow in color to help reduce glare, and have bold raised lines. They are offered at basic check pricing.
— Statements in Braille and large print for checking, savings and market rate accounts.
— Braille ATM cards and ATM & Check cards. These cards have information in both Braille and regular emboss.
Wells Fargo Stores
Wells Fargo regularly monitors its stores for compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state and local accessibility laws by surveying the parking reserved for customers with disabilities, curb cuts and ramps, walkways, store entrances, teller counters, safe deposit facilities, customer service telephones, and lobby areas. Also, customer service for deaf or hard-of-hearing customers is available via hearing impaired text telephone at 1-800-877-4833.
“Wells Fargo is a leader in serving the diverse needs of its customer base by making its products and services accessible to customers with disabilities,” said Charles Crawford, executive director of the American Council of the Blind. “Wells Fargo is leveraging its expertise as the nation’s #1 Internet bank to extend financial services to the blind and visually impaired community. In addition, Wells Fargo was the first financial institution in the country to draw up a plan for developing and installing talking ATMs – which helps open doors for the blind and visually impaired community to financial success.”
ABOUT WELLS FARGO & COMPANY
Wells Fargo (wellsfargo.com) was recently ranked the #1 Internet banking site by Gomez, the preeminent Internet quality-measurement firm. Wells Fargo is a diversified financial services company with $370 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance from more than 5,800 stores and the Internet across North America and elsewhere internationally.
Laura Piñones Wyse