How Revolut made accessibility part of our DNA

Sebastian Hamilton

 · 07/30/2021  · 07/30/2021

At Revolut, we want to make money management easy for everyone, no matter the circumstances. That's why accessibility has to be at the forefront of everything we do. Meet Breandan Ward.

For Breandan, handling money online should be simple. After all, he worked in investment banking for 15 years.

But like more than 250 million people around the world, Breandan is visually impaired. When he started losing his vision, handling his own finances became more and more difficult... until he tried Revolut.

“I was delighted to discover that Revolut was accessible to me as a blind smartphone user,” he says. “Many smartphone apps are not inclusively designed which leads to people with disabilities or health conditions being excluded.”

Breandan, who’s now a university lecturer and a leadership coach with a special interest in disability, says that despite his sight loss, Revolut was incredibly easy to use from the get-go.

“All of the downloading, opening, verifying ID and then landing with my euro and sterling accounts was very smooth,” he says.

The principal reason for Revolut being so accessible is that it has been designed to work with the VoiceOver system on Apple devices and the TalkBack feature on Android devices. Each component on the screen has a verbal description of what it is (e.g. a button) and what it does (i.e a button that allows the user to add money to their Revolut account). This functionality helps customers who are blind, visually impaired or affected by sight loss to navigate the screen. It can also be integrated with braille.

Unfortunately, Breandan says that all too often he downloads a popular new app - “one that everyone’s talking about” - only to find that it doesn’t work with VoiceOver.

Not so with Revolut, though. “VoiceOver worked fine and took me through the steps of getting set up,” he says.

Accessible by design

This level of accessibility didn’t happen by accident. At Revolut, ensuring accessibility for the visually impaired is baked into all that we do.

Diomidis Papas, Head of iOS Engineering for Revolut, explains that he and his team see accessibility as both a professional requirement and a human right.

“It’s part of our DNA,” he says. “It’s built in at a component level. We set specific standards and requirements to the products that we build. Accessibility is one of the requirements.”

Accessibility is so important to Diomidis and his colleagues that “Mobile app accessibility” is a Key Performance Indicator for the whole mobile platform technology team. This means that every quarter, as part of their performance reviews, the team are assessed on how well they’ve ensured that the app is accessible to customers who are blind, visually impaired or affected by sight loss.

Specifically, the team has to make sure that Revolut’s apps meet the W3C global accessibility standards with regard to text contrast ratio, minimum text size, colour contrast, VoiceOver support and keyboard navigation for the web - as well as mobile vendor’s guidelines. And Diomidis and his colleagues are also keen to get feedback from blind or visually impaired users to make sure they’re continually doing all they can.

That’s how Revolut ensures that our commitment to accessibility is sustained. But that’s not why we do it. “It’s a moral obligation,” says Diomidis. “I’m just delighted to hear that users are finding it helpful.”

Transforming money for all customers

That “moral obligation” means that for people like Breandan Ward, navigating money has become much less of a challenge than before. Even Breandan admits that he started out by asking himself sceptically: “How is this going to work for me when I can’t see?” In particular, he wondered how he would fare given that Revolut doesn’t have call centres, but instead focuses on in-app chat as the fastest and most secure way to address queries.

The answer, though, is that it’s working for him incredibly well. So well, in fact, that Breandan has signed up to a Premium account which, as well as great FX rates, offers him medical insurance when travelling. And he’s even persuaded his family and friends to use Revolut, making it easy and straightforward to send each other money.

“For me, being able to access the Revolut app and use it just like my sighted friends and colleagues is a very inspiring sign – it communicates to me as a blind customer that values of inclusion are acted on in how the design team at Revolut have built and support the platform,” he says. “Rather than blind customers being forgotten and excluded, we are empowered by inclusion and equal access - and we can recommend Revolut to our blind and sighted friends alike.”

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