Good example of an accessible website?

screnshot of expedia websiteExpedia gets a good write up from the Accessibility Wins blog site. Curator Marcy Sutton went looking for inaccessible tourism websites for a project she was doing and said she found many. However, she liked Expedia and claims: “They have a skip link, labeled form controls and icon buttons, and intuitive navigation. They’ve made it easy to navigate with a keyboard and a screen reader”. The blog site is aimed at web page designers and developers. Other posts are a bit more technical such as Google Chrome’s Color Contrast Debugger which tests the colour contrast ratios. Useful for anyone needing to brief a web developer as well as web designers and developers.

Editor’s Note: I haven’t checked this site out personally, but it seems Expedia is keen for any feedback about the accessibility of their site. 

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Easy Access to Historic Landscapes – A guide

Front cover of the guide with four pictures of people in different historic locationsHistoric landscapes, gardens and open spaces are there for everyone to enjoy. Historic England has produced a guide for anyone working to open up historic sites to a wider audience by providing easier access for all visitors. This revised edition of the 2005 guide promotes an inclusive approach to ensure that every visitor to an historic park, garden or landscape has a meaningful experience – not just physical access. Property owners and managers designers, and planners should find the guide helpful in tackling all aspects of the visitor experience. The key elements of the guide are:

1. Why access matters

2. Planning better access

3. Making access a reality

4. Published sources of information

5. Where to get advice  

This is a companion to Easy Access to Historic Buildings.  
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Galactic travel notes

Aircraft is taking off from a runway in outer space. there is a planet in the backgroundThe Restaurant at the End of the Universe may be a place to visit in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but many restaurants on Earth may as well be at the end of the Universe for some people. With the release of new Australian research putting the Accessible Tourism market at $10.8 billion and with the second Destinations for All conference coming up in October in Brussels, the need is greater than ever for leadership in the tourism industry. Accessible Tourism is still generally regarded as a physical access issue. There are some that have embraced a customer focussed experience model to create inclusive products and services. In his article, Disabled Traveller’s Guide to the GalaxyBill Forrester says that changing from an access model to a product development model is the key. This is a significant and growing market that is worth the investment of both time and money. Moving the language from “accessible” to “inclusive” tourism could be a good start. See also Local Government NSW free online learning program about creating inclusive places and activities for tourists and local residents alike. Many improvements can be made with little or no cost. So in the words of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, DON’T PANIC.

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Inclusive Tourism: free online learning

A graph showing the growth of inclusive tourismHow can you make an hotel, a place of interest, an event, or holiday accessible and inclusive? What’s actually involved and why should anyone bother? The answer to these and many other questions are found in a comprehensive e-learning program – and it’s free! The course was developed by Local Government NSW to help tourism operators make the most of their potential clientele. There are several modules and each has learning content followed by quick questions. You can access the course, the case studies and resources on the Local Government NSW website. 

The course was developed as a result of a collaboration with the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse when it became clear that information about accessible and inclusive tourist destinations and activities was often incomplete. Although this was developed with local council tourist centres in mind, the content is applicable broadly – including shops, cafes, restaurants and novelty places – anywhere for visitors whether they are local, interstate or international.

 

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Easy access to historic buildings – a guide

Front cover of the guide.Buildings from previous centuries didn’t consider access and inclusion, so the two don’t always go together well. Historic England has taken on the challenge with their updated guide, Easy Access to Historic Buildings. The guide also includes information for businesses and attractions within an historic site, such as shops and cafes that aren’t necessarily historic, but add to the overall visitor experience. The guide is comprehensive and replaces their 2004 edition. It can be downloaded in sections.

 

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Visits4U Access Guide from Europe

Logo of visits 4 uThe visits4u access guide is for businesses, organisations and their staff involved in the tourism industry: hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies, tourism authorities, art and cultural attractions. The  recommendations are aimed at improving the accessibility of tourist services. The short document on Who is the Customer of Inclusive Tourism provides some basic but important advice. There are separate sections on hotels, shops and restaurants, cultural attractions, wayfinding and signage, hearing augmentation, and marketing and promotion. There is also an online training course and much more to be found on the website. In the section on Routes, partners in Greece, Latvia and Spain designed itineraries that promote local history and modern culture, with up to date access information for routes and places to visit. And there is much more.

European Union logo. Blue background with 12 small yellow stars in a circleThe guidelines are the result of seven European countries collaborating to improve user experience and sustain inclusive design across the partner countries, and to build capacity in the tourism sector. visits4u is co-funded by  the COSME Programme of the European Union. 

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A smart hotel room

Hotel bathroom with walls decorated with line drawings of palm trees and other plants. There is a shower seat, hand held shower and a toilet pan that only allows for side transfer.Travability’s travel blog has an article about Accor hotels and what they are attempting to achieve with their accessible room designs. Accor calls it their “smart room”. It features many of the design aspects that you would expect in a room compliant to disability access requirements plus a bit of design polish – something else you would expect with an up-market hotel chain. A closer look at the picture of the bathroom might make an access consultant question a few things – particularly the juxtaposition of some elements with each other and placement within the room. Maybe it is just the angle of the pictures. Accor claims the room to be universally designed, and it is, from the perspective of almost anyone could use it provided the bathroom suits. Some of the really good things are in the technology – this is what makes the room smart and where the biggest gains have been made. See the article for the full description and pictures.   

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Airport travel guide for people with dementia

Front cover of the guide showing an aircraft overlaid with artistic coloured squaresBrisbane Airport has an airport user guide for travellers with dementia. They have used the information from DementiaKT for the guide, so there are links to other resources as well. The guide is titled, Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide through the Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal for People Living with Dementia and their Travel Companions. It is simply written and easy to follow and covers preparing for the journey, getting to the airport, checking in and flying out. Coming home again addresses, passport, baggage claim, and domestic transfers among other things. There is a list of dementia friendly symbols at the end of the guide. While this guide is specific to Brisbane International Airport, much of the information could be adapted for other airports in Australia. As with most things designed with a particular disability in mind, it is probably useful for any first time overseas traveller.

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Tactile models popular with everyone

A metal model showing a town layout in relief with Braille on buildings and streets. There is a church and lots of houses and a town square represented.Tactile models of buildings and spaces are made with blind people in mind to help them orientate in unfamiliar surroundings. Many are found in tourist destinations where they can also provide information about the building or space itself. It turns out that sighted people like to use them and touch them too. While this can cause some problems with inappropriate use, there is another, unexpected up side. The author argues that tactile models may become a “completely valuable, universal tool for learning and a great way of studying architecture in an alternative way”. The article reports on a study of this perspective of tactile models. This is another example that highlights the idea that so-called “designing for the disabled” is in fact, designing for everyone. The title of the article is Tactile Architectural Models as Universal ‘Urban Furniture’(“Furniture” is a bit misleading in this title).  

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Taking off at Brisbane Airport

A man and two women stand in front of the toilet. In front of them is a green ribbon. The woman in the middle is about to cut the ribbon.Knowing a Changing Places toilet is available at Brisbane airport means that some travellers will deliberately break their journey here to use the facilities. The facility is so well used a second is planned for Brisbane’s International Terminal. This facility removes a major barrier to travel for people with disability, their family members and companions. The picture shows the ribbon cutting at the opening of the facility. Brisbane Airport also caters for assistance animals in both terminals. Other travel and journey improvements include:

  • In collaboration with QUT-based Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers (DCRC-CC) developing a step by step guide – Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide to Brisbane Airport for people living with Dementia and their Travel Companions – an action plan and resources kit for airport staff to improve the experience of air travel for people with dementia. Through this program Brisbane Airport was the first airport in Australia to be recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as an approved Dementia Friendly organisation.
  • Development of Brisbane Airport’s Accessibility Journey Planner which is due for release later this year
  • Completion of an Access Audit Program across both terminals by an accredited access consultant who provided recommendations.
  • Completion of a number of accessibility remediation projects including upgrading of public stairs, Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s) to escalators and travelators, lift upgrades and way-finding.
  • Australia’s first dedicated airport Assistance Animals ‘bathrooms’ were opened in 2014 in the International and Domestic Terminals.

 

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