Why the Hospitality Industry Needs Digital ADA Accessibility Now More than Ever

25 Oct 2020

Today, most people use the Internet for nearly everything they do in life.

They do their banking on the web.

They buy goods, make appointments, and enjoy a range of entertainment.

Many people are also making their travel arrangements online.

The majority of people take for granted the power of having everything at their fingertips through the Internet.

However, there are tens of millions of people who do not have the same level of accessibility on the web.

This means that they are not able to access ads, sites, videos, and other content in the same way.

Digital ADA Compliance Could Make a Difference to the Bottom Line

The hospitality industry, who is already struggling for business in today’s post-COVID world, needs to learn to better embrace digital ADA compliance for their websites and advertisements. By understanding the needs of those who are disabled, and being able to meet those needs, it can help their business and their reputation.

In the past, hotels and other facets of the hospitality industry worked to make their physical locations more accessible for people. They included braille on elevators and maps in the hotel to create ramps and more. The same care needs to be taken now in the digital world to ensure digital ADA compliance.

What Are the Current Rules and Regulations?

While there have been some impressive advancements made in terms of technology that can be used for website accessibility, many hotel and hospitality sites have not yet incorporated them.

One of the reasons for this is that there are not currently any laws that require digital ADA compliance. Instead, there are only guidelines that are suggestions put forth by the Worldwide Web Consortium.

Despite there not being a current requirement by the law, hotels should make it a point to improve their website accessibility as soon as possible.

The guidelines include making the website accessible by making it Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust, which spells out the acronym POUR.

Despite these guidelines being available, they are still somewhat vague.

Perceivable means that the content on the site needs to be perceived through the senses including vision, hearing, and touch. This could be through the browser or the use of assistive technologies.

Operable means that the user will be able to interact with all of the controls and elements on the site using their keyboard or using an assistive device.

Understandable means that the content needs to be clear and not ambiguous.

Robust means that the site should be accessible through a range of different technologies including both new and older tech and assistive devices.

What Can Hotels Do to Improve Website Accessibility?

Companies must have an understanding of each of the elements of the POUR acronym. It is also essential that the companies understand the nature of different types of disabilities and work to create a site that is accessible by all. There are many methods and tools that can be used to help achieve this.

Sites can provide text alternatives for videos, graphics, and animation.

This ensures that more people will be capable of understanding that content even if they cannot see or hear it. The use of audio for all of the text on the site can help to make this possible for those who are blind, for example.

Additionally, it is important to make sure text labels are used for all of the buttons and calls to action. This ensures that they will be navigable and understandable by everyone. Text descriptions should be used for all internal and external links, as well.

Another way to improve website accessibility is by adding keyboard accessibility.

Websites should be navigable by keyboards, screen readers, and alternative keyboard devices. This will make it possible for all users to be able to read and interact with the content that is on the site. This means that the site should be navigable with and without using a mouse.

If there are tasks that need to be completed on the website, such as entering a password, adding personal information to make a reservation, etc., there should not be a time limit.

Some people may have trouble completing these tasks if they have a motor disability or if they have a cognitive disability.

Of course, the website should also have readable text. This means that the fonts should be large and easy to read, or that you provide the ability to change the font and text size. Additionally, consider the colors that are used on the website.

Think about how they can make certain text or links more difficult to find or read. Also, think about those who may be colorblind and who may not be able to find certain buttons or links.

Make It Easy to Find Accessible Rooms

Hotel websites should also think about the accessible rooms they offer and how they are presented.

Often, these rooms are described and listed more as an afterthought than anything else. The rooms should have descriptions that are just as robust as the other rooms, and they should highlight the accessible features of the room.

Again, all of the information on the site should be accessible. This ensures that those who need and want these rooms will know that they are available, what they offer, and how much booking the room will cost.

Do Not Miss Out on Potential Visitors

With so many hotel websites, both large and small, not offering full website accessibility, it becomes difficult for them to meet the needs of today’s world. They are missing out on a large segment of the population that is disabled and that wants to travel. With the number of travelers decreasing today because of the pandemic, it makes sense to reach as many people as possible. Even after the crisis abates, incorporating digital ADA compliance to the site and the advertising that is offered is important.

If hotels want to take advantage of a large segment of the country, accessible content is vital.

Next Steps

The hospitality industry can increase its service to disabled guests through deploying the aforementioned updates to their digital presences. Reviewing and upgrading a company’s website is an important first step.

TruAbilities can introduce hospitality-related businesses to its easy-to-implement and easy-to-use tools that can make accessibility achievable with minimal effort and affordable cost.

Learn more about TruAbilities’ website accessibility solutions today.

Listen to this webinar that TruAbilities delivered for the California Hotels & Lodging Association.