A Taxing Experience


It is April and my husband and I are once again rushing to complete our taxes before the deadline.  We worked together using H&R Block’s software.  My husband found the proper papers and called out numbers.  I found the correct section of software and filled in the forms.  It worked well (my husband was sure to speak loudly and clearly and he sat just a foot or two from me, enabling me to hear the numbers) until we had a question about whether we needed to complete a particular section.  To be certain I clicked on an offered video that was to explain the details.

As the video began I found the CC or caption icon and clicked on it.  The woman on the screen was moving her mouth, yet no sound was produced and there were no captions present.  I made sure the video was un-muted, but still no sound.  Aha!  My husband realized that the speakers to the computer were turned off.  We corrected that issue.  The moving mouth was now accompanied by sound, but still there were no captions and I saw the caption icon had disappeared from the video.  How odd.

The next day I remembered that H&R Block had entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice for failing to provide on its software accessibility features that would allow people who are blind or visually impaired to use the software.  Still, H&R Block denied any wrongdoing.

The decree states the following:

    1. Phase I: By January 1, 2015, H&R Block shall ensure that www.hrblock.com and the Online Tax Preparation Product conform to, at minimum, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria (“WCAG 2.0 AA”).
    2. Phase II: By January 1, 2016, H&R Block shall ensure that its mobile applications conform to, at minimum, the WCAG 2.0 AA.

Further along in the decree, the DOJ states the H&R Block must test all its improved software and coding by using a group of people having a variety of physical disabilities including vision and hearing disabilities.

Phew!  It’s good to know that by next year or the year after I won’t have to struggle to complete my taxes because of a lack of captioning…only because we don’t have all our paperwork organized well.

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