How we helped create HSBC’s
award-winning Accessibility Hub

Some great news!

HSBC have just made available to the general public their Accessibility Hub, the multi-award winning Accessibility Awareness eLearning course that has been helping their staff become aware of accessibility, globally.

This compelling introduction to the reasons behind accessibility is now available for all organisations to use.

You can find it at:

Some quotes from people who have experienced it:

As someone who has also been diagnosed with MS I found it accurate, informative, touching and overall fantastic. It had a balance between learning, educating and also providing an insight to someone’s life with a sometimes visible, sometimes invisible disability.”
Business Banking Analyst at HSBC

“This is great. An eLearning at work has never brought a tear to my eye like this before”
Local Director at HSBC

“It’s great to see HSBC doing this… it’s exceptionally well done… As many people as possible should see it…”
Dyslexic Customer of HSBC, in user-testing

We’re really proud to have been part of the team behind the creation of Accessibility Hub, and are delighted that HSBC have now chosen to share it publicly.

Here’s the story behind how HSBC Accessibility Hub was created…

The objective

HSBC’s ambition is to become the most digitally accessible bank in the world. Their aim is to make all their digital channels accessible – websites and apps for customers, cross-media campaigns for publicity, and internal tools and eLearning for staff – through a 10-year journey to become best in class.

To achieve this, all their staff, contractors and suppliers need to deliver accessibility in their work. To get a sense of the scale of the task, HSBC have 235,000 staff globally creating digital documents, 30,000 working on digital projects, outsource work to agencies all over the world, and buy digital tools from a huge number of digital vendors!

In 2016, we helped them establish one of the most comprehensive accessibility training programmes in the world for their digital teams, and organise events internationally to let thousands of staff know why accessibility is essential.

But that’s wasn’t enough. They needed a way of training their whole global workforce, wherever they are, whenever best suits them.

They needed to engage and motivate learners with accessibility in 30 minutes. Looking at what other organisations had done, we found many videos of people with disabilities which brought empathy, illustrated how assistive technologies help, or showed challenges people face when products aren’t accessible. We found other videos that were brief, impactful and had great production-values. But we couldn’t find all these in one resource.

So that was the brief – to produce eLearning which was relatable to everyone, that would have immediate impact for staff and suppliers globally.

Creating a compelling, authentic narrative

Having run ‘Introduction to Accessibility’ training events for years, we knew what experiences HSBC staff found compelling. HSBC brought together our trainers at Hassell Inclusion with specialist eLearning producers, Atticmedia, to rethink these for eLearning.

We knew we needed to include the stories of people with disabilities directly, via video portraits of how digital impacts their daily lives.

But we also knew that video portraits have limitations in conveying many messages quickly, and with impact. So we also included a fictional video narrative, unseen elsewhere. The narrative needed to be refreshing for bank staff, and relatable to people outside banking, so we chose the theme of online dating, to highlight issues of disclosure, and how accessibility challenges in technology can make people feel. We chose a protagonist who has Multiple Sclerosis, as the needs of people with fluctuating conditions are often misunderstood. HSBC allocated a budget to give it the production values of HSBC’s adverts, to ensure people with disabilities are seen as a key audience, not a niche one.

The narrative needed to feel authentic to the lived experiences of people with disabilities. So we involved the subjects of our video portraits in helping our script-writers to write the script. We cast a lead actress with the condition she was portraying. We asked them all for feedback on materials as they were being created.

Accessible eLearning can include the “bells and whistles”

To also help learners get a first-hand experience of the sorts of frustrations that people with disabilities can experience, we made online, gamified simulations showing: the experience of trying to find information on sites solely using a keyboard, and with a simulation of blurred vision.

These interactive elements are often the parts of eLearning which prevent the eLearning being accessible to all. We couldn’t let this happen, as it was essential to HSBC that the eLearning be both compelling and accessible. From video shooting and editing, to the design and coding of navigation and simulations, everything had a goal of the highest level of accessibility experience – beyond technical accessibility (defined by WCAG), or even usable accessibility (ensuring effective and efficient user journeys), but satisfying and enjoyable for everyone.

To meet this accessibility goal, we trained each supplier who worked on the project in best-practice, innovative accessibility practices.

Accessibility Hub’s innovation and impact so far

Accessibility Hub launched within HSBC in 2022, initially in the UK, and then beyond to 235,000 staff globally.

Pre-launch, we did extensive user-testing with people with disabilities, from inside and outside the bank, to check its accessibility. They found very high levels of accessibility: in the simplicity of the interface; quality of captioning and audio-description; and personalisation settings for dyslexic and autistic learners.

They also verified the videos portrayed their lived experiences accurately. People who have MS feel seen and understood:

“Rachel is excellent. I can so relate… I want to be seen as the person first. Then I want you to know about my MS. That’s exactly how it’s portrayed.”

Accessibility Hub has helped HSBC motivate and upskill their digital teams to continually improve the accessibility of services delivered for staff and customers, globally.

It also proved that eLearning can be accessible, without losing the interactive bells and whistles the best eLearning includes; that the need for accessibility can fully engage people’s hearts and minds; and that accessible eLearning can look beautiful and generate excitement as well as deep thought. This has motivated HSBC’s other eLearning suppliers to aspire to the new “engaging and inclusive” level the project achieved.

Since its launch, the HSBC Accessibility Hub has won 3 awards:

Visit HSBC Accessibility Hub, and find out more…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.