June 5th, 2019 by Pat McCauley
What Does This Mean and Why Does It Matter?
The ADA laws say that disabled individuals should be able to enjoy what you sell and how you sell it just like anyone else. If you have an online store, such as Target for example, all visitors to your website should have the same opportunity to buy your product without issue or assistance, no matter their abilities.
The same rule holds true for lodging and hospitality sites.
If you sell a room online, the disabled traveler should be able to access your site via mobile phone or desktop and hear or see exactly what is in that room. They should know the color of the wall paper, the style of bed, and thread count of the sheets. There should be no need for assistance in choosing and booking a room. It is imperative, if you have wheelchair accessible rooms, that it says so in the descriptions on both on your website and booking engine.
A Long Time Coming
InsideOut Solutions has been encouraging our clients towards accessible website compliance since April of 2018.
Recently, seven Massachusetts bed and breakfasts were sued for accessibility issues. Their sites were accessible but their booking engines were not. To the best of our knowledge, ThinkReservations offers the only accessible booking engine in our industry.
These “surf-by lawsuits” are a menace, but they are a reality of business, so you need to be proactive to protect yourself as much as possible.
Steps You Can Take
For our clients who use ThinkReservations, we have attached a pdf showing what you need to do to help their booking engine be as compliant as possible on your site. If you are not client of ThinkReservations, contact your booking engine to determine if it is accessible and what you need to do to improve your booking experience for the disabled.
We are not attorneys, so even after an accessible website upgrade, we cannot guarantee you won’t get sued. Hopefully, showing that you are making an effort will help you to get your case get dismissed.
This presentation from the AIHP Summit details what you should know both for ADA physical property and your website (slides 26-32).
Ready For an Accessibility Upgrade?
Does your site need to be upgraded? Test your site with Google Chrome Lighthouse to find out now.
The cost to upgrade your InsideOut Solutions built website is only $240. This includes testing your site’s current performance vs. accessibility and recoding your site to accessible standards. The upgrade includes adding an accessibility page that explains all you have done to make your website as accessible as possible.
If you’d like an accessibility upgrade, new site design, or any other help, feel free to let us know. We’re here to help!