Aiming at Barrier-Free Access for Everyone to Banking Services
Milestones attained in accessibility to Credit Suisse and its services for people with disabilities.
Zurich.-Credit Suisse has launched a wide-ranging long-term project that makes it the first major financial services provider in Switzerland to provide full accessibility to the bank and its services for people with disabilities. Branches, internet pages, contact centers, processes and information sent out to clients have all been reviewed to assess their accessibility for people with impaired vision or mobility, and the deaf and hard of hearing. This has led to large numbers of adaptations. For example, a considerable number of ATMs have already been moved to a lower level. Direct Net, the Credit Suisse online banking service, has been certified according to international web accessibility standards. In the next few months, about 2,400 employees will also be made more aware of the special needs of people with disabilities and will receive training on this subject.
Buildings and electronic services such as online banking are often unsuitable for people with a disability. “With this long-term project, Credit Suisse aims to take on a pioneering role, and to play its part in increasing the integration of people with disabilities in Switzerland by making its products and services accessible to them,” said Hanspeter Kurzmeyer, Head of Private Clients Switzerland. He added: “This initiative will enable us to stand out as a bank that is specifically geared to the special needs of this growing client group - and also as a bank that meets its social responsibilities.” He further commented that Credit Suisse is the first major Swiss financial services provider that aims to provide comprehensive accessibility to its banking services for people with mobility problems, impaired vision and the deaf.
Barrier-Free Online Banking and Internet
Credit Suisse is the first Swiss bank to bring its Direct Net online banking service into line with international accessibility standards. As long ago as April 2007, the Access for All certification body that is responsible for Switzerland assessed barrier-free access to Direct Net at level AA (the highest level is AA+). Credit Suisse has also made large numbers of its internet pages accessible to visually impaired users.
Another improvement is that information sent out by the bank on paper - bank statements, for example - will be produced in large print for visually impaired clients in the future. From mid-2008 onwards, account statements can be requested in Braille. At the same time, special versions of pdf documents that are dispatched electronically will be reprocessed for visually impaired people.
Easy Access to Branches for Disabled Visitors
Credit Suisse also believes that it is very important to build and design its properties to meet the needs of disabled people. The goal is to ensure that everyone benefits from the highest possible level of accessibility to the bank’s business premises in Switzerland. Branch conversions, extensions and new buildings will all be designed to meet the needs of disabled users wherever this is technically possible and appropriate. For example, pathways and parking areas outside branches will be free of raised sections or physical obstacles such as seats or steps. All 15 branch conversion projects last year were carried out according to the guidelines on the design of business premises to meet the needs of disabled people. Another 25 are planned for 2008. Credit Suisse has set itself the long-term goal of converting all its Swiss branches to make them suitable for use by disabled.
Speaking ATMs and Lower-Level Wheelchair-Accessible ATMs
From July 2008 onwards, speaking ATMs will start operating at frequently used locations that are suitable for this purpose. Installation work has already started. These machines guide visually impaired and blind users through the services available from the ATM with easy-to-understand instructions in German, Italian, French or English. Communication via headphones guarantees that the necessary discretion is maintained. Credit Suisse has so far installed 18 lower-level ATMs for wheelchair users and at least 10 more will be added by the end of 2008.
Contact Centers Included - Special Processes for People with Impaired Hearing
A new process has been introduced in the Credit Suisse contact centers in Switzerland as part of the Accessibility project. From March 2007 onwards, this means that deaf and hard-of-hearing clients can receive the same service as all other clients. The intermediary in this case is the Procom Foundation, which specializes in this field, and which must be authorized for this purpose by any client who wishes to use the service.
Raising Employee Awareness - Disability Interest Forum Set Up
Alongside the technical improvements, another key element of Credit Suisse’s long-term accessibility concept is to raise employees’ awareness of the needs of people with disabilities. To achieve this, about 2,400 employees will complete disability awareness training by the end of this year. The goal is to make the participants aware of the special concerns of people with disabilities and to teach them the most important rules for interacting with these people.
Employees have also set up the Disability Interest Forum. This will help to develop a network and a forum at Credit Suisse for exchanging information regarding people with disabilities and those who care for a disabled person and/or who simply have an interest in this subject.
* Credit Suisse Media Relations, Tel. +41 844 33 88 44, email@example.com
As one of the world’s leading banks, Credit Suisse provides its clients with services in the areas of investment banking, private banking and asset management. It provides companies, institutional clients and high net worth private clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland, with specialist advisory services, comprehensive solutions, and innovative products. Credit Suisse operates in over 50 countries and employs approximately 47,000 people. Credit Suisse Group, the parent company of Credit Suisse, is a leading global financial services company headquartered in Zurich. Credit Suisse Group registered shares (CSGN) are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at www.credit-suisse.com.
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