Going Global: Are travel websites disabled-friendly?
With over 1 billion disabled people around the world, it is critical for enterprises to let their virtual world be governed by inclusivity and accessibility.
There are rarely any tasks populating our day which is not in some way connected to the digital. Building a positive customer journey is currently the make-or-break point for most brands. It is significant to open up the digital world of brands to diverse sections, particularly those who have previously been marginalized like the disabled.
A study was conducted by Simon Wissink, Business Development Consultant at a digital UX agency on user experience in the travel domain. The result was collated in a report – “Are travel companies burying their heads in the sand when it comes to user experience and accessibility?” It revealed that the user experience on highest-ranking travel websites like OnTheBeach, Co-Operative Travel, Booking.com, AirBnB, Expedia, Skyscanner, British Airways, LateRooms, Virgin Atlantic and LastMinute lacked intuitive interface for disabled users. The investigation was carried out in collaboration with Molly Watt, who is deaf by birth, registered blind and has Usher syndrome. The aim of this study was to see how technology is accessible and empowering to disabled people.
The main factors which determine the experience of a disabled user on a website are:
- Overall user-friendliness
- Booking procedure
- Across-devices usability
- User-accessibility, particularly for those who have visual, physical or cognitive disability.
The report covered 35 such points of which the average points websites scored was 23. This reflects that the travel industry still has a long way to go towards becoming a friendly platform for disabled people. Apart from LateRooms and Expedia, most of the other websites could not be easily used by disabled people.
Here are ways in which you can make your website disabled-friendly:
When you have gone over the mentioned tips and designed your website to be disability-friendly, build a section that includes on how to go about navigating your site. A “Tips and Tricks” module would be a great way to start. Check out BBC’s section “My Web My Way”! BBC guides the users not only on the features of their website but on how to use the computer for accessing disability-friendly features. This will add a finishing touch to your accessibility-trip showing that you are going an extra mile to include disabled people in the audience!
Though it is not common yet, imagine a website solely designed for the disabled. This would begin with a simple choice of options: I am blind, I can’t hear, I find words difficult and then move on to customizing the website with relevant tools. You could set up such a mode on your website as an experimental feature!
Alt-Text on Images
When you linger over an image, you will notice that a text appears over the cursor. These are called alt-tags. Those who are visually impaired can use the screen reader to know what the image contains through this tag. Attach an Alt-text to all the images with accurate titles. For instance, in case it is photo of a person, write name of the person or describe what the picture contains to show its relevance.
Those who have mobility issues could find it hard to click on small items on the website. For them, it would be akin to trying to nail the bull’s eye every time on your website-dart! Make sure the clickable item is embedded in a wide range, so that it can be easily accessed.
Integrate assistive technology into your website architecture: Screen reader is a decisive component along with the presence of skip links (which would allow the disabled person to skip through irrelevant information and move through the content easily). Add the zoom in/out option for all the regions on your website.
Designing for Everyone
The design of your website should be built with the starting point of including the disabled as a primary reader as well, which means you will have a simple and uncomplicated layout without the use of fancy typefaces.
When you are building content for the website, you need to keep in mind that the screen reader will speak out the words exactly as mentioned. For this reason, ensure that the abbreviations are written with periods. For instance, if you want to mention United Nations Security Council, make sure it is written as U.N.S.C. and not UNSC alone. Without the periods, the screen reader would speak it as a word: U-N-S-C as “unsc”.
Including a link on your post should be accompanied by a description of the link than a “Click here” option. For instance, when you want to send a link to GoodReads, you should mention, “For more information on book reviews, check out GoodReads platform!” instead of writing, “For more information on book reviews, click here!”
The color of your websites should be sensitive towards audience. Stay away from using bright colors especially, excessive blue, yellow or green lumped together. The ideal color theme is black text on white background. You can use contrasting colors to leave out the white pages, especially ones with forms to reach exactly those parts which have to be filled in.
Transcripts and Subtitles
When you embed a video onto the website or add videos to your channel on YouTube or other online platforms, make sure they have option to use subtitles. The subtitles and transcriptions will allow the user to access the video easily.
While you are on your way to implementing ways to make your website disability-friendly, check out the websites which have the highest ranking in this category on Disabled-World.com!
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