Sun, sea and sand are in short supply this summer for disabled and elderly people trying to research and book their holidays online, according to our new survey. A decade after we first reviewed the country’s top airlines for website accessibility and usability, it appears that little if anything has improved, despite huge advances in technology and provision for disabled people in general.
Of the top twelve carriers and holiday companies sampled - British Airways, Carnival, Club Med, easyJet, First Choice, Monarch, Qantas, RyanAir, Saga, STA Travel, Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic – just one met the base level of access requirements needed to research travel and accommodation options and make flight or holiday reservations.
The tester panel attempted to carry out typical real life tasks using the most commonly encountered access technologies. These include magnification software and screen readers or text to speech software for the visually impaired and people with dyslexia, and for those with physical difficulties, using the keyboard instead of the mouse to navigate the screen. Other testers had hearing and dexterity issues common amongst older customers.
The report’s author, Robin Christopherson, AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion who is himself blind, said:
“The challenges of researching and booking holidays can present a double bind to the country’s 12 million disabled people and 10 million over 65s, who are increasingly subject to age related conditions like hearing loss, macular degeneration and arthritis
“Whilst internet shopping and research extends consumer choice immeasurably (particularly because many operators only sell their products online) many would-be holiday makers find that they are losing out due to badly designed web pages that prevent them from shopping around and finding the best deals on flights and bargain breaks.”