Digital accessibility is a growing practice that is all about inclusion — all people should have the ability to seamlessly navigate every aspect of the web. When a destination marketing organization’s (DMO) website is not accessible to all, it is essentially putting a barrier between people and travel.
We asked Partner Success Manager Joseph Felix from AudioEye why digital accessibility is such a crucial task for DMOs to take on — he shared the following statistics:
- 15% of the world’s population has disabilities, meaning 1.17 billion people are disabled
- 1 in 4 people will be excluded from a website that is not accessible
- Globally, people with disabilities and their friends and families have an estimated disposable income of $12.61 trillion
Digital accessibility affects more people than you may think — so what’s stopping your DMO from building an all-inclusive website? According to TravelAbility, the most common topics that prevent organizations from taking on the duty of accessibility include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by the task
- Not knowing how to start, where to get the information needed, and who will be responsible for any updates/changes to the website
- Fearing imperfection and complaints
It’s imperative to know who your audience is — the four main categories of disabilities to consider when it comes to digital accessibility are:
A common misconception is that people with disabilities do not navigate the web or utilize the internet. The truth behind this is that they do it differently; a handful of technology helps people with different types of disabilities with digital tasks. However, if websites are not built and designed with accessibility in mind, these tools will not be able to help people consume the content on the website.
Types of assisted technologies that help people digest website content:
- Screen readers
- Voice over on Apple and Android
- Screen magnification to keep the context in line to easily navigate
- Speech input technologies
- Alternative input technologies
Keeping these technologies in mind, DMOs must take on the task of designing landing pages that will allow every website visitor to use specific technology to navigate through and understand the content. We asked Simpleview experts Senior Art Director Eva Orduño and Art Director Andrea Martinez to give us insight on what key elements of a website’s design can make or break digital accessibility. Here is their perspective:
- Minimal, toned-down color pallette with plain backgrounds — avoid bright or vibrant hues
- Particular color contrast with no clashing shades; for example, don’t use light teal text on a white background
- Simple fonts that are clear and easy to read (not too thin or slanted); use larger font sizes with line heights that are 1.5 the size of the text, using all-caps sparingly because it’s harder to read
- Button and links need an indicator when you hover over it, as well as color, arrows, and movement to show the button/link was successfully clicked. They also need clear, descriptive link titles that screen readers can decipher — like “Read the Accessibility Article” instead of “Read More”
- Videos need captions and images should not have text on them
- Focus on a clear typographical hierarchy — large headings to ensure logical reading order and color usage to make calls to action stand out
There are many resources available online to put your website’s accessibility to the test. You can check out WebAIM or UX Collective: Testing fonts for accessibility to compare your site’s characteristics to what is deemed digitally accessible.
Website content is just as important as design when it comes to digital accessibility. What should a DMO consider featuring on its site? All accessibility information, attractions, and experiences within the destination help travelers plan their perfect, hassle-free visit.
It may be difficult to find accessible opportunities in your area. Start by reaching out to local businesses to help you identify your destination’s offerings — this information will need to be curated for your visitors into categories. Examples of what content you could include:
- Directory of services by disability
- Guide to accessible hotels
- Restaurants that focus on accessibility
- Public transportation and maps
- Meeting and conference accessibility guide
- Accessible experiences, like wheelchair-accessible trails
- Past traveler experiences
Let your destination’s unique offerings tell the story of what an accessible trip will look and feel like to guests.
Who is Getting Accessibility Right
Experience Grand Rapids is known for caring deeply about its digital accessibility. The color palette, contrast, font choice, and AudioEye toolbar are just a few ways the DMO has put accessibility front and center on its website, and staff members frequently evaluate the website’s landing pages for accessibility.
Not only is the design easy to digest, but the content focuses heavily on accessibility. Accessibility in Grand Rapids features every detail a traveler with disabilities needs to know before visiting the destination, including the most inclusive hotels, restaurants, attractions, and transportation. In addition to this landing page, the following blog articles and more exist across the website: Grand Rapids Restaurants That Focus on Accessibility, Ideas for Accessible Attractions to Visit in Grand Rapids, and A Local’s Guide to Accessible Hotels in Grand Rapids.
Visit Raleigh also shows its commitment to making the destination fully accessible with a project called All Access Wake County, which focuses on inclusivity for those with disabilities. This landing page features resources for Wake County hospitality partners that help them provide a genuine experience for all guests. The website also utilizes the AudioEye toolbar and Threshold 360 — a virtual tour software that enables the DMO to post videos showing the easiest, most accessible routes around the city.
Did You Know?
Having a digitally accessible website can improve your SEO. Google can see if you are building with accessibility in mind and will rank your site higher on organic searches — meaning being accessible can increase overall scores. Also, businesses that invest in accessibility benefit from positive public relations and an increase in website visitors that interact and engage with the content.