How Can Airlines Improve their Websites for Passengers with Disabilities?

In 2015 North American travelers with disabilities spent $17.3 billion on travel, significantly more than $13.6 billion in 2002. At the same time, complaints about airlines made by passengers with disabilities have doubled to more than 30,000 per year. Amadeus, a travel industry technology company, released a report on barriers to accessibility across stages of the passenger journey that may hold some answers as to why.

The overall accessibility of travel websites and their ease of navigation were named as two of the biggest pre-travel barriers by travelers with disabilities surveyed for the report. The Voyage of Discovery report also identified four key elements that could make planning easier for travelers with disabilities: effective communication, responsive services, standardized content and a personalized offer. “Too often organizations look at disability through that legacy lens of philanthropy and regulation. What we’re doing is telling them there’s a market opportunity here,” explains Simon Dermer of eSSENTIAL Accessibility. eSSENTIAL Accessibility is a technology company that helps people with physical disabilities more readily access the web.

So far, Qantas is the first airline to partner with eSSENTIAL. The Australian carrier offers assistive technology, allowing customers with difficulty reading, typing and moving a mouse to navigate its website using a range of tools including a hands-free movement tracking system, onscreen keyboard with word prediction and page reader. Lufthansa has made efforts to improve the accessibility of its website. The airline has made compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

This article was originally published by APEX, the Airline Passenger Experience Association. APEX is “the only non-profit membership trade organization comprised of the world's leading airlines, industry suppliers, major media groups and related aviation industry leaders.”

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