M&T Bank's app for customers with intellectual disabilities

By Helen Adams
M&T Bank and life-skills app Magnusmode have collaborated to support customers with autism, cognitive and intellectual disabilities

M&T Bank has become the first U.S. bank to team up with MagnusCards by Magnusmode, a free app dedicated to making the world a more accessible place for people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. 

The collaboration will create new digital guides that provide visual cues and step-by-step instructions to help people access fundamental banking services. 


Digitalised guidance technology will help those living with a disability

Using digitalised "Card Decks," the MagnusCards app guides users through tasks and activities that might otherwise feel challenging or overwhelming. 

M&T Bank is expanding its "life skills library," which provides practical guidance through storytelling Card Decks helping users navigate daily tasks and experiences, such as making ATM transactions and using a debit card for purchases. 

It uses applied behavior analysis methods, offering prompts and positive reinforcement to support experiential learning.

The app's users include:

  • People with autism 
  • People with down syndrome
  • People with an acquired brain injury
  • People with dementia 
  • People with ADHD
  • People with other cognitive disabilities


In addition to banking and money management, the app provides accessibility support for public transportation, healthcare, shopping, school and other activities which people need to access as part of their daily lives. 

Stephanie Tisdale, a vice president and strategic initiatives lead at M&T, played an important role in launching M&T's MagnusCards. She asked her 17-year-old brother, Diarllo, who is on the autism spectrum, to serve as the "acting talent" in the production of the visuals for the Card Decks. While the ask was a bit outside Diarllo’s comfort zone, he jumped at the opportunity when he learned how his participation would help other people with disabilities.

"My brother is never one to be the center of attention, but when he heard it would help people, he was all over it”, said Tisdale. “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 MagnusCards app will be so empowering for him and all people with cognitive disabilities."


Overcoming barriers and welcoming everyone

M&T's Disability Advocacy Network (DAN), is an employee-led group which advocates for the needs of people with disabilities. The group identified MagnusCards as a potential opportunity for the bank and guided its implementation, working alongside M&T's technology team throughout the bank.

"Our MagnusCards will help people count money, use their debit card to purchase things, withdraw cash from an ATM or teller and deposit cash and checks into an ATM," said David Zolnowski, president of DAN's Western New York chapter and a parent-advocate whose son has Down syndrome. "Each of these essential guides will be extremely helpful to people with disabilities."


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