Though there are great uncertainties and lack of DOJ guidance concerning website accessibility, hoteliers must take all necessary steps to ensure their websites are accessible to, and navigable by, customers with disabilities and comply with the WCAG 2.0 A & AA guidelines.
There are approximately 48.9 million Americans with some form of disability. People with disabilities spend over $17.3 billion annually on travel, and the economic impact is at least double that figure since many of them travel with at least one or two other adults (Open Doors Organization). The vast majority use the Internet to plan and book travel.
Many travel consumers with disabilities use desktops, tablets, smartphones and other devices to access the Internet with the help of assistive technologies, including text-to-speech screen readers, refreshable Braille displays, keyboard navigation, and captioning. Such technologies have been available and widely used for decades, and today’s hotel website must support these assistive technologies to allow travel consumers with disabilities to access the information they need and complete a transaction on the hotel website.
Over the past few years, a number of hotel companies - big and small - have been contacted by law firms with legal complaints and lawsuits related to the hotel website not conforming to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and various website accessibility guidelines. These law firms seek hefty compensations and claim they represent clients with disabilities who have not been able to use the hotel website to find information or complete a booking. Using simple free HTML scanners and validators that can be highly inaccurate, these law firms can easily find examples of non-compliance on any hotel website. In fact, over 95% of all websites are in some form of non-compliance with website accessibility standards (Criterion508).
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