Website accessibility in the tourism industry: an analysis of official national tourism organization websites around the world

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Disability and Rehabilitation, 2018, 40 (24), pp. 2895 - 2906
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© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: To analyze the accessibility of official national tourism organization websites of countries around the world, in order to establish possible common patterns and rankings of those with exemplary practice through to those with the highest number of issues. The purpose for undertaking such an analysis is to provide a quasi-indicator of inclusive organizational practice for online accessibility for both destination managers and their accessible tourism consumers–domestic and overseas people with disability visiting the websites. Method: The official tourism websites of 210 countries included in the latest World Tourism Organization report were analyzed. A website accessibility evaluation tool (website accessible test) was used in the analysis, according to AA and AAA levels of conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements. Results: Different patterns compliance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 were established for the clusters, which were rather similar for both AA and AAA conformance levels. The main issues in the least accessible websites were also identified, mainly focused on the following guidelines: navigable, compatible, adaptability, text alternatives and also referred to other assistive technologies. Conclusions: Once the main issues were established several alternatives are suggested to address them, such as implementing more prescriptive laws and regulations, complying with mandatory benchmark standards and/or having external agencies audit website designs. However, in addition to using benchmark standards, efforts to improve this situation should also be made by programmers, who should also rely on preexistent experiences and develop more dynamic knowledge. This knowledge may include text alternatives for any nontext content; creation of content that can be presented in different ways without losing information; provide ways to help users navigate, find content, determine where they are and navigate websites to maximize compatibility with assistive technologies and user agents.Implications for rehabilitation Access to information–in this case, online information–is an important factor in the process of rehabilitation for people with disability and those supporting them. Failure to apply homogeneous criteria for website accessibility around the world can hamper access to information by people with disabilities. Travel planning requires access to mainstream tourist distribution networks where online inclusive practice is a precursor to information searching. Documents for destination managers and programmers the main problems of accessibility to websites and examples of models or solutions to follow and not. Establish the main inclusive website design criteria on which to focus on improving the access of people with disabilities to websites (e.g., text alternatives, content presented in different ways, navigating and improving compatibility with assistive technologies etc.).
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