Travel websites are among the worst accessibility offenders, according to a new report.
Audioeye’s very first Digital accessibility index revealed recurring issues on travel websites, including seemingly simple fixes such as hotel photos missing an alternate description.
The study’s expert testers, a group made up of people with various disabilities, discovered several consistent roadblocks that hamper the hotel and airline booking experience.
Pop-ups with no information for visually impaired users and a lack of detailed descriptions of hotel rooms and other areas of a property were also common flaws.
Additionally, website signage and navigation issues, such as untagged links, meant testers had to try to figure out from the surrounding text where a link might take them.
Overall, the study found that 73% of travel pages had at least one image with missing or inadequate alt text, while 40% of form pages had at least one unlabeled field.
“AudioEye’s Digital Accessibility Index highlights the unacceptable reality that digital experiences are interrupted for people with disabilities, preventing them from performing key tasks that many of us regularly depend on, such as shopping online. , banking, access to news, work related activities and much more. said David Moradi, CEO of AudioEye.
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AudioEye’s findings are no different from an annual report written by WebAIMwhich analyzed the homepages of the top one million websites in February.
The study found an average of 50 errors per page across all industries, and more than 96% of website homepages failed to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2 (WCAG).
The travel industry landing pages studied in the WebAIM report performed even worse than average with 55 errors detected.
Lawrence Shaw, CEO of AAAtraqwhich helps businesses protect against litigation arising from website accessibility issues, finds that no industry is 10% compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
And, he warned, regulations are getting tougher. In California, for example, the Assembly Bill 1757 broadens the criteria for which one can be held liable for website accessibility to include developers and service providers.
Shaw said the changes could come into effect early next year and “open the floodgates to litigation”, but added that the current situation was avoidable.
Lawsuits related to website accessibility are on the rise, says UsableNet 2023 Mid-Year Report. For example, he revealed that from January to June, the number of federal lawsuits filed in Florida increased by 30% to 228 compared to the same period in 2022.
Overall, according to UsableNet, such lawsuits have grown from 2,314 in 2018 to around 4,220 in 2023, a jump of more than 80%.
While Shaw said millions of dollars and man-hours are wasted every month on accessibility-related cases – amounting to around $600 million a month – a few “common sense” changes could make a difference. huge difference.
Independent audits are the first step, Shaw advised, because currently many companies carrying out work to ensure accessibility are the same ones that approve the work.
Another important thing, he pointed out, is to make reporting on accessibility failures and fixes non-technical.
“Compliance breaks down into two areas: the software and systems on which you build your website, and content such as images, videos, text and links,” Shaw said.
He added that basic training exists for those uploading content, while contracts with developers and vendors to address many other issues can be put in place with a built-in accountability structure.
In the United States, more than one in four adults has some form of disability. It therefore makes good business sense for travel agencies to provide this segment of the population with the same online service as others. In the United States, household income with disabilities is estimated at $490 billion, with discretionary spending of about $20 billion. That’s a significant amount of money to pass up for a little care when designing a website.
The alternative, he says, is at best a potential customer going to another site – at worst an expensive lawsuit.