ANZ goes to work on some easy-to-read documents
ANZ is making its banking services accessible to more customers by creating easy-to-read documents. Earlier this year the bank sent a team to an IHC Easy Read training session run in Wellington by the Council for Intellectual Disability in New South Wales.
ANZ Senior Manager Customer Vulnerability and Accessibility Fiona Terry says the team was inspired by the course and keen to establish some of the ideas in New Zealand.
Since then, ANZ has established an Easy Read working group and created its first document – the complaints process.
Fiona says banks need to take account of all their customers. “ANZ New Zealand has joined its parent company in Australia in making a public commitment to becoming more accessible. This isn’t only about the physical design of its banks but about trying to make its products and language more inclusive.”
She says Easy Read is an example of how ANZ is trying to do better. “By being more accessible, we help avoid vulnerability. We know that people experiencing vulnerability are less likely to voice their concerns but if we have done something wrong, we really want to know about it.”
ANZ will road test the document with disabled people to help the bank understand more about the lived experience of disability and what other documents could be translated to Easy Read.
Fiona says the bank is working to ensure all stages of its product and service developments are more inclusive. “An example of this is having greater diversity in the people we approach for our research and user-testing processes, and testing for accessibility as we design and develop.”
She says ANZ acknowledges that not all bank customers are looking for the same kinds of things in terms of services and products.
The Easy Read training was organised by IHC Advocate Shara Turner and attended by people from government agencies and other disability organisations. The training started with a talk about what Easy Read is, and participants went through some practical examples. They had each been asked to bring a document they wanted to simplify and, using this, created their own Easy Read document for feedback from the trainers.
Along with the Easy Read training, Shara provided training for people with intellectual disabilities who want to be testers for Easy Read documents.
Shara says documents are a good start. “It’s not an Easy Read journey, it’s like a journey to inclusion.” It is about understanding that people who need to read an Easy Read document, would also love to know about whatever else is happening too.”
Community and disability groups, including IHC, have been working with the New Zealand Banking Association in the ‘Older and Disabled Person’s Group’ to find ways to make banking easier for these groups. Recently this has been given a sharper focus with tighter rules around who can support people to operate bank accounts – along with the end of cheques.
In 2020 the banks agreed to Guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers, a supplement to the Code of Banking Practice, designed by the group. New laws will soon require banks to have an approved fair conduct programme – a significant element of this being fair treatment of customers in vulnerable circumstances. The banks are working on building their fair conduct programmes now, and these are expected to be in operation early in 2025.