The leisure, hospitality, and tourism industry is one of the largest economic sectors worldwide. Yet, while the needs of the disabled community are usually accommodated on a physical level in the form of wheelchair ramps and hearing loops, etc., the needs of people facing online access barriers are often neglected.
Many Americans set aside 5-10% of their net annual salary for leisure travel, and a significant percentage of tourism transactions are performed online. Organizations without accessible websites are missing out on a considerable amount of income because the spending power of the US working-age population with disabilities is $490 billion.
Why is an Accessible Website Important to Customers?
People go to online travel, leisure, travel, and hospitality websites for multiple reasons, including:
- Researching attractions
- Planning trips
- Comparing prices
- Assessing facilities
- Booking tickets
- Checking timetables
- Changing Itineraries
- Checking in online
Everyone should have the same opportunity to decide whether a particular destination or attraction is right for them. That means having equal access to information and reservation processes.
Why is an Accessible Website Essential for Your Business?
Having an accessible website demonstrates your commitment to exceptional service from the very first customer touchpoint. So, first and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. The technology of consumer engagement is changing, and organizations must be proactive in removing online barriers that prevent customers from researching and booking hassle-free trips and experiences. This is especially important in the leisure and hospitality sector, where customer service is paramount.
Of course, the primary incentive behind making your website accessible is the promise of increased revenue. Compared to previous generations, modern consumers prefer experiences over purchasing material possessions. So the market can be lucrative. But inaccessible websites prevent people from finding out about your organization.
Which Customers Face Online Access Barriers?
The target market in the leisure and hospitality sector comprises a large number of people who are more likely to encounter online accessibility barriers. For example, foreign tourists who don’t read English as a first language.
However, even without considering the international market, the case for online inclusion on a domestic level is clear, because one in four Americans has a disability that can make accessing information online challenging:
- 14 million Americans are affected by vision impairments (National Institutes of Health).
- 20% of the population is neurodivergent (CSR Wire).
- More than 54 million adults (16.5% of the population) are
- 65 and older (America’s Health Rankings).
- 67 million American residents speak a language other than English (Center for Immigration Studies).
What is an Online Access Barrier?
Online access barriers occur whenever an element of a website’s design or presentation makes it difficult to read or interact with the content. Users usually struggle for one of four main reasons:
Including unsuitable font choice, text size, or the color contrast between text and background.
Website errors like empty links and buttons, missing input labels on forms, and missing document language often make keyboard navigation impossible.
Flashing images, videos, or distracting image carousels affect focus and can act as triggers for seizures.
The pages don’t flow logically when web copy uses overly complex language or terminology or when alt tags and link descriptions are missing.
Accessibility Barrier Examples
Let’s look at some real-life examples of access barriers that could affect the flow of visitors to your business.
Anita has dyslexia. She’s a school teacher looking to organize a museum visit for a group of 30 children. But the museum’s website is poorly formatted. The copy has poor color contrast with the background, and the justified text and double spacing create a ‘river effect.’ So she can’t read any of the information. All she sees is blocks of white snaking through the illegible web copy. Ultimately, she gives up and begins researching alternative attractions.
Havier doesn’t read English as a first language. He and his friends are on a round-the-world trip, and he’s checking out the website of a regional tourism bureau so they can plan their visit and book all the excursions and activities they want to do during their stay. But, he can’t understand the content, and because the contact form is missing labels, he can’t file a request to reach out for help.
Agatha is 68 and has decreased vision. She’s the secretary for her local senior’s club looking to organize a day trip to a popular visitor’s center. Unfortunately, the website’s menu bar is complicated to navigate, and none of the on-page text has proper headings. Her screen reader can’t skip to the right sections to find out about opening hours and coach parking, so she closes the webpage and looks elsewhere.
How to Make Your Online Content More Accessible
To maximize inclusion and meet your organizational goals for growth, having an accessible website is a must. So, how do you go about making your website accessible?
1. Familiarize Yourself with WCAG Guidelines
2. Comply with National and Local Web Accessibility Legislation
There are two critical pieces of website accessibility legislation in the US: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act. Both exist to ensure that disabled website visitors are not treated less favorably online.
3. Invest in Assistive Technology
A proven way of supporting people online is by utilizing assistive technology. Embedding accessibility software on your website allows you to support a diverse range of users by providing tools that enable them to create fully customizable online experiences.
How Can Recite Me Help?
Recite Me’s innovative suite of accessibility on-demand tools makes websites accessible and inclusive for a diverse range of people:
- The Recite Me Checker audits back-end and front-end web development processes by running 396 separate compliance scans in line with WCAG 2.1 and breaking down the issues you should be working to fix.
- The Recite Me Toolbar promotes inclusivity by allowing end users with sight loss, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and varying linguistic needs to access your website per their individual needs and preferences.
Improved Accessibility Backed By Real World Data
Thousands of organizations using Recite Me technology are already benefitting from their investment. Results from our 2022 annual report show that during the previous 12 months:
- The Recite Me toolbar was active on over 5,000 websites
- Individual toolbar usage increased by 59% to over 5.5 million users.
- We made 34.4 million pages of web content inclusive.
- On average, Recite Me toolbar users viewed 6.33 web pages per session – more than double the internet average of 2.8 pages per session.
Organizations Leading the Way
We are proud to work with numerous leisure and tourism organizations across the US. Our current client list includes:
- Farmington, New Mexico
- Old Forge, NY
- Livingston Parish Tourism
- Burke County Visitor’s Center
- The Inn Collection Group
- Best Western Hotels
Start Your Web Accessibility Journey
Our team is here to help you on your mission to provide more inclusive online experiences. Get started on your online inclusion strategy today by working through these action points:
- Contact our team for more advice about WCAG standards and the web accessibility legislation that applies to your organization.
- Find out more about the Recite Me Web Accessibility Checker.
- Schedule a free checker demonstration to learn how our technology can help you.
- Run a free check of your website for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance.
- Find out more about the Recite Me Toolbar.