Making sure everyone can use our products and services!

13 June 2019 ... min. read Listen

As Head of ‘Global Accessibility’ at ING, Bianca Prins-Honkoop aims to ensure that everyone can use our products and services. Bianca knows how important this is, because she has a visual impairment. Read her story, in her own words.

In the family

“My visual impairment is genetic. I was born with cataracts and nystagmus (involuntary eye movements). I see 3% with my left eye and 85% with my right eye from far away, and 20-25% when I read.”

“My mother often talks about how, when I was a toddler and wanted to play with my brothers, I used to find my way about by walking along the wall. Within a week I was able to follow my brothers everywhere, even though I saw almost nothing.”

“As independently-minded as I was, I learned to find my own way. Literally. You could say that I had already embarked on the battle for accessibility to the world around me. I had no idea what I would still need to go through.”

When you are born with a disability this determines your life: how you learn, how you think. I have learned to think in solutions, rather than in problems.

“At the age of 24 I was an independent lobbyist in the Netherlands and fought for the rights of everyone with a disability. I have found my calling. I enjoyed lobbying for a goal in the political arena but also wanted to make the difference in a practical way.”

“My network brought me into contact with ING where, as someone with a disability, I participated in the ‘Onbekend Talent’ (Unsuspected Talent) programme. It did not take long before I presented an accessibility plan to Ron van Kemenade, our chief information officer. He looked at my possibilities rather than my limitations and asked me to implement the plan as Head of Global Accessibility.”

Nobody had a problem with the fact that I could only work part-time, as long as I was able to get the job done. That’s simply marvellous!

“I can only work for 20 hours a week. I have glaucoma, which was caused by all the eye operations I underwent as the child. This is exhausting and gives me terrible headaches. At the end of the day I am hardly able to read any more.”

“Having a part-time job was no problem at ING. As long as I was able to get the job done. That’s simply marvellous, isn’t it?” In exchange for flexibility, they get someone who is utterly dedicated to her job.”

“And that’s a good thing too, because these days there is a strong sense of urgency to make our products and services more easily accessible. This is partly due to legislation, which we aim to comply with. But what’s even more important is that if we do not do enough for people with an impairment they will go to another bank.”

We are speaking of 20% of the world population. Who can permit himself to ignore such a big group of people?

“There is still a lot left to do, but we are making progress. We have added ‘Read aloud’ buttons to articles on and we are currently engaged in enhancing our debit and credit cards with Braille and strongly contrasting colours, as well as an indentation on the side, to make them easier to use for everyone.”

“Additionally, we are ‘repairing’ our payment machines in Dutch supermarkets by installing a speech option. I am explicitly using the word ‘repairing’, because they should actually have been designed with a speech function from the very beginning.”

Master Plan

“In conclusion, I would like to speak about the really big step we’re taking: a master plan for a worldwide accessibility strategy. For customers as well as employees. We aim to anchor this into the development of all new products and services and to take people with an impairment into consideration from the very onset.”

“There is no going back; this change is imminent. Primarily younger people with an impairment want to help shape the future. And this is why it is so important that people like me express themselves, are able to show themselves and are given a voice.”

“We comprise 20% of the world population. No one can permit themselves to ignore us or underestimate what we can achieve if we want to. I am living proof of this.”

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