Why travellers need accessible websites
The recent collapse of travel company Thomas Cook has seen tens of thousands of travellers from the UK stranded at destinations across the globe.
It’s likely that this nightmare scenario will have been even worse for some travellers who have disabilities. Because evidence shows that they often face barriers accessing information when researching, planning, booking and using travel and accommodation.
For instance, a report published by travel technology company AMADEUS in late 2017 entitled ‘Voyage of Discovery’ highlights the inaccessibility of information via websites as a major barrier for people with disabilities who want to travel.
Travel accessibility is a mainstream issue
This study was commissioned to better understand the needs of travellers with accessibility needs, and to outline areas of action for the travel industry to become more accessible.
It brings together perspectives from travellers and experts to offer a clear picture of the travel accessibility landscape, including the different needs and pain points of travellers.
So why is travel accessibility so important? Because currently over one billion people, about 15% of the world's population, have some form of disability. They are the world’s largest minority.
Plus the World Health Organisation estimates that by 2050, 21.5 % of the global population will be aged over 65, and most disabilities are acquired as people grow older.
It’s safe to say, people with disabilities who have accessibility requirements represent a large global group.
But the travel industry is not fully meeting their accessibility needs and is failing to take advantage of the huge business opportunity this presents.
Inaccessible websites stop travellers
The study found that nearly half (49%) of people with disabilities surveyed booked transport and accommodation at the same time online.
But the study also found that inaccessible websites and web content is the biggest barrier that stops people with disabilities researching, planning and booking transport and accommodation online.
Nearly one quarter (24%) of travellers surveyed reported that they had problems searching/ shopping/ booking travel and accommodation online during their last trip due to inaccessible websites.
Overall, more than half (53%) of travellers surveyed said they need help with all or part of the booking process.
According to the report (pp 9): “The lack of common accessibility standards for the provision of content and services in the travel industry clearly creates real problems for travellers at the time of assessing products and services appropriate for their specific needs, which is why the rating for availability of relevant content on travel websites is low.”
Effective online communication is critical
The report also identified the four key characteristics of the ideal accessible trip, one of which is effective communication.
It goes on to state (pp 16): “On an ideal trip, a traveller should be able to access sites which adhere to standardised web-content accessibility guidelines and allow (for example) blind and partially-sighted people to read them with screen-reading software.
“Such sites might also offer access keys for easy navigation and accessible search options.
“Information will be reliable and up-to-date and take into account different disability profiles.
“The information should be delivered across a range of channels (visual, audio and easy-reading).”
Build it and they will come
They all use Recite Me’s assistive toolbar to let travellers with a wide range of disabilities and impairments, from dyslexia to sight loss and colour blindness, to easily access their websites and web content.
Recite Me works across all mobile and desktop devices to let user customise websites and their content to do what they need to do, wherever they are.
Ultimately, the evidence shows that travel companies can grow their market significantly if they remove travel accessibility barriers like inaccessible websites.
As the report states (pp 15): “When asked about missed travel opportunities, the study found that travellers would increase their travel budget by 34 per cent (either travelling more or for longer periods of time) if accessibility barriers were eliminated, which is a significant opportunity for the industry.”