As the use of digital formats continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for hotels and restaurants to ensure that all of their services are accessible to all.
The recent pandemic accelerated changes that have been long in coming. Today, for most consumers, their dining and travel experiences now begin online. Booking a room or making a dinner reservation, consumers are likely to use a website or mobile app versus making a phone call.
The explosion of online food delivery, this has accelerated the digitalization of the restaurant industry, and lodging services are following the trend. A top business priority of the global travel and hospitality industry is adopting “new technology to better serve customers and/or suppliers”.
Web Accessibility requires that all customers be provided with high-quality online experiences. Don’t forget that travelers and diners with disabilities encounter many obstacles when planning, booking, and embarking on an experience – whether for business or pleasure.
Some may be small inconveniences that have minor effects on the consumer. Others make hotels’ and restaurants’ digital experiences impossible to navigate without help. Some possible problem areas could include:
- Restaurant and hotel contactless kiosks and mobile check-in applications which may not allow for zooming and screen reading support needed by visually impaired people.
- Ensure that your virtual calendars are compatible with voice recognition software your patrons will use to book their online restaurant reservation.
- Don’t choose your color schemes and fonts based on aesthetics alone. You also need to choose colors and fonts based on what will work best for your visitors.
- Travelers with dyslexia will struggle to access critical information about bargains, departure dates, etc. depending on your choices.
Remember, laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Air Carrier Access Act protect the rights of people with disabilities to access dining and travel experiences. Those laws are now routinely applied to access needs through websites and mobile apps. While the hospitality industry has made major leaps in supporting this access there is always room for improvement.
To begin, let’s define the solutions that will help users with disabilities to effectively use any technology. In the hospitability industry this commonly relates to web sites and applications, mobile apps, and kiosks directly used by patrons.
Digital accessibility ensures that these systems are built in a way that they can easily be used by people with disabilities. This includes ensuring they properly interact with commonly used assistive technologies, such as:
- Screen readers, braille keypads or screen magnification software so users who are blind or low vision can read content.
- Voice recognition software that helps those with mobile impairments (including arthritis) navigate the web and type using only their voice.
- Head pointers and switch devices that allow those with more limited movement to navigate without using their hands or a traditional mouse.
Some estimate that one in five people has a disability that affects their daily life. Having equal access to technology has an enabling effect for people with disabilities.
There is no “quick fix” for accessibility issues. Like other compliance domains such as information security, only a structured approach in the form of technology, third party validation and training can ensure consumers have access to your sites and devices.
Three Steps to Web Accessibility.
Below are the most common ways to invest in digital accessibility that provide real support for access:
The first step is an in-depth audit of a systems. This measures your current level of accessibility compliance. These reports are then used to improve system compliance and help protect organizations against legal action.
Expert support provides on-demand guidance, testing, and support for legal inquiries as your team or vendor implements changes to systems. This allows you to focus on your business, creating great experiences for patrons, and not worry about the technical details of digital accessibility.
Most understand the need to develop some limited, internal capacity to handle day-to-day accessibility issues. They know they’ll need some training but don’t know what that looks like. Tailored training takes the needs of your business into account and provides solutions for delivery of training that makes sense in the context of that organization.
Today’s standards require that electronic documents be accessible to individuals with disabilities. A document remediation service helps you bring your online documents into compliance with current standards.
Comprehensive solutions are required to ensure an equitable society. Whether dining in or out, or traveling versus staying at home, all people should have the same level of access to the information and services they want and need.