The screen struggle is real and TD Bank is making its solution free to the public

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When Samantha Estoesta used to get migraines from staring at her computer screen all day at work, she would turn off all the lights or find a dark room and try to just “power through.”

“I would go through a large amount of Tylenol or Advil because it literally was just a way of life — you take three Tylenol and you keep going,” said Estoesta, now a product manager at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

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That was before her team at TD developed an online tool with the goal of making life easier for colleagues who struggle with online environments.

The TD Accessibility Adapter tool — which the bank on Sept. 27 announced will be made available to the general public for free — is a browser plug-in that enables users to personalize features based on their online needs.

It includes features such as reading guides, adjustable font size, dark mode, a dyslexia-friendly font and monochrome mode. The tool changes what appears on the browser itself without using overlays and can coexist with other assistive technologies, such as stand-alone screen magnification software.

“I haven’t had to take any sick days (since I started using) it, which has been amazing,” Estoesta said. “It’s changed my functionality.”

Part of the success, Estoesta said, is that the adapter, which can now be downloaded as a Google Chrome extension, allows those with accessibility needs to avoid the stigma that sometimes comes from disclosing a disability, meaning they can implement the solution from day one, saving companies sick days and enhancing productivity.

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The tool has garnered great feedback from employees, whether they identify as having a disability or not, she said.

“It’s made them more productive because they’re able to go through their day without additional distractions,” she said.

While today’s desk jobs almost all involve computers and the internet, it is estimated that 20 per cent of the population relies on assistive technologies, such as screen readers, closed caption and colour blindness settings, to access the web, according to the website Accessiblity.com.

TD said user preferences for the tool have leaned toward accessibility options, such as voice assistance, closed captioning, auto-captioning and dark mode, when they are available.

The tool was initially developed internally for those working for TD. The bank first piloted it to more than 6,000 retail employees earlier in the year and launched it to the rest of TD’s 95,000 workers around the world in June.

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Based on the success internally, the bank decided to launch the product to anyone in Canada or the U.S. at no cost, she added. The public launch was announced on Sept. 27 during the Elevate Festival in Toronto.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive across the entire enterprise,” Estoesta said.

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