Have you ever thought about how a blind person selects and books accommodation that best suits their needs, or how someone who is paralysed with limited mobility finds their dream holiday online?
Accessibility in the travel sector is often thought of as simply physical accessibility such as hotels providing easy access for wheelchairs, but digital accessibility is just as important. In a world where technology is continuously growing, booking online is often the default and desirable choice for many users, but for people with disabilities it may not always be feasible. It is essential that companies in the travel and tourism sector strive ahead of the competition to stand out from the crowds and include accessibility as a core part of their digital strategy.
People who have a disability can access the web just like someone who is fully able – as long as the websites and mobile apps they’re using have been designed with different capabilities in mind.
This is where digital accessibility comes into play.
What is digital accessibility?
Digital and web accessibility are terms often used interchangeably. The W3C World Web Consortium is an international community that develops web standards and offers the following definition:
“Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.”
- W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
Let’s take a closer look at some statistics that show how many people are affected by digital accessibility:
- 3.3 million people in the UK have some kind of disability
- 8% of men and 0.5% of women are colour blind
- 10% of the UK population are dyslexic
- Over 2 million people in UK live with sight loss
- 19% of the UK population have a hearing loss – of which 6.5 million are over 60 years of age
- 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning difficulty
So why should you care? Well, apart from the legal obligations to make sure your digital platforms do not exclude any users on the basis of disability, maintaining an easily accessible web estate is vital to providing a good user experience and will ultimately lead to a larger and more diverse audience-base.
In this blog article, an excerpt from 'Making travel websites accessible for everyone', I'll take a look at one of the features of Travel websites that's commonly inaccessible - date pickers.
Date pickers that help you book your holiday dates are extremely common on travel sites. Without them, it would be really hard to quickly book a holiday
Usually, customers are given the flexibility of choosing their desired check-in and check-out dates whilst a calendar is in front of them. Visually this helps customers to plan their holiday dates as they can see which day each date falls on each month.
A good example of an accessible date picker – Airbnb
Airbnb has the perfect example of a date picker which is clean in design and accessible. It shows that design doesn’t need to be restricted when you consider accessibility.
- Colour contrast meets the minimum colour contrast ratio (just)
- All interactive elements can be accessed with a keyboard
- Dates are labelled appropriately, so customers who rely on screen-readers are able to know the full dates they select, the availability and whether it is the check-in or check-out date
- A visible focus indicator is provided on all interactive elements and also meets the minimum colour contrast ratio
Common date picker problems
There are several travel company websites that have inaccessible date pickers. This makes it near impossible for customers with impairments to book and plan a holiday. Some issues we identified are:
- Colour contrast do not meet the minimum colour contrast ratio. Customers who have dyslexia, visual impairments or are colour blind will find it extremely difficult to understand the information
- Interactive elements cannot be accessed using a keyboard alone. This can be a barrier for customers not only with visual impairments but also those who live with motor impairments such as repetitive strain injury
- Dates are not labelled, so customers who rely on screen-readers will not be able to grasp the information
- A visual focus indicator has not been provided, so some users may not know where they currently are on the page
This article is an excerpt from my mini-review of travel website accessibility. In the full paper, I also look at issues affecting the accessibility of accommodation selection and filters.