Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Finance

M&T Bank’s new partnership supports customers with cognitive disabilities

MagnusCards uses a digital card deck to help people with banking, shopping and public transportation. It's the latest in an ongoing diversity and inclusion push from the bank with a major local presence.

Using digital "cards," the app helps people navigate their day. (Photo by Pexels user Andrea Piacquadio, used under a Creative Commons license)

M&T Bank, a major finance-sector presence in Delaware, is launching MagnusCards by Magnusmode, a free app dedicated to accessibility for the cognitive and intellectual disability communities. It will be the first U.S bank to use the digitized “card decks” that guide users through tasks they find challenging through storytelling.

Called its “life skills library,” M&T provides practical guidance through the card decks to help customers navigate daily tasks like using a debit card or making an ATM transaction, using applied behavior analysis methods and positive reinforcement to support experiential learning. In addition to banking tasks, the app also provides accessibility support for public transportation, shopping, healthcare, school and other everyday settings. The app can assist people with autism, Down syndrome, acquired brain injury, dementia and ADHD, among other cognitive disabilities.

“Confusing or complex services can create barriers for people with autism and other cognitive disabilities,” said Magnusmode founder and President Nadia Hamilton in a statement. “Our assistive technology helps companies eliminate those barriers and welcome, support and enable people on the autism or disability spectrums.”

The partnership came about thanks to the advocacy of M&T’s Disability Advocacy Network (DAN), an employee-led group that advocates for the needs of people with disabilities. The group identified MagnusCards as a potential opportunity for the bank, and guided its implementation and launch, working with M&T’s technology team, along with disabled members of the M&T community and their families.

“The Disability Advocacy Network wanted real people involved. We didn’t want actors, but people who would directly benefit from our collaboration with Magnusmode,” said DAN member Stephanie Tisdale, a VP and strategic initiatives lead at M&T, whose 17-year old brother, Diarllo, participated in the implementation. “My brother is never one to be the center of attention, but when he heard it would help people, he was all over it. It was inspiring to see Diarllo contribute to something so important. I want my brother to have the opportunity to live independently, to be able to access the services he needs and to feel like he belongs.”

The new partnership is part of M&T’s ongoing push, which launched in earnest in 2019, to improve diversity and inclusion, both within the company and the communities it serves. The bank also partners with Delaware-based The Precisionists, which helps to prepare people with autism for jobs. Last November, through a partnership with YWCA Delaware, it hosted “How to Be an Antiracist” author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in a virtual event. At the base of its D&I efforts is listening to the marginalized people within the organization, M&T Chief Diversity Officer Glenn Jackson told Technical.ly at the time.

M&T Bank has nearly 100 jobs currently open in the state.

Companies: M&T Bank

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