H&R Block and the National Federation of the Blind, the largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, announced an agreement to make the tax prep chain’s website, online tax preparation products and mobile applications fully accessible to blind taxpayers.
The agreement is contained in a consent decree ending litigation involving NFB, two of H&R Block's subsidiaries, two blind Massachusetts residents and the United States Department of Justice. Screen-access software enables blind people to access computers, websites and mobile apps that convert content on screen into spoken words or braille, but is blocked by improperly coded websites and apps.
The consent decree outlines steps that Block will take to ensure its website and the utility for preparing income tax returns is accessible by January 15 and its mobile apps are accessible by January 2016.
Also contained in the agreement are measures to ensure accessibility is maintained and blind users and others with disabilities can provide feedback and receive assistance with accessibility issues.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which will make the online services of one of America's largest and most popular tax preparers available to blind taxpayers,” stated Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “Blind people will soon be able to file their tax returns privately and independently if they wish, rather than seeking assistance in doing so. We commend H&R Block for its commitment to making its services accessible to all taxpayers, including those who are blind.”
"H&R Block is pleased to have reached an agreement with the National Federation of the Blind that insures the accessibility of our online resources for individuals who use assistive technologies and will work with the organization on further refinements to our online resources,” stated Jason Houseworth, president of global digital tax solutions and product management at H&R Block. “We are committed to providing superior customer service to all Americans, including those with disabilities. As part of that commitment we want to serve all clients how they prefer to be reached — in a retail office, online, using software or a combination of methods."