The US Department Of Transportation deadline for website accessibility compliance has come and gone and is coming back again, after the approval of an extension which allows airlines to complete their work by the end of this year.
Many airlines have been working on their digital systems and infrastructure to meet needs of the disabled community, with some success. Advocacy groups see progress to date as a mixed bag of exemplary results, half-measures, and definite failures.
Compliance is a big project, with thousands of pages of website content to revise. But a company specialising in rapid UX upgrades may have found a way to help airlines create a universally accessible web presence without starting from scratch.
EveryMundo claims to have found a niche in the digital arena by focusing on solving website problems for airline marketing professionals quickly, without needing to burden the IT department.
In essence, EveryMundo’s suite of products superimpose more user-friendly UX on existing sites, without requiring a full scale overhaul of the back-end systems.
While these tools are handy for other marketing purposes such as rapid localisation of a website or deployment of a mobile site, some airlines have discovered that they are also a good way to meet DOT accessibility requirements sooner and with fewer complications.
EveryMundo’s president, Seth Cassel, explains:
“Though one of the most obvious uses is instant ‘mobilification’, the tools can also be used to manipulate any aspect of the airline’s website to any end. So if that end is DOT accessibility compliance, that's possible.”
The idea to use its tools in this context originated with one of its customers.
“We're in conversation with a carrier who sees the way we're using BookSMART to manipulate and enhance the user experience. They asked, 'Can you help deploy a series of features on the site which ensures compliance with DOT accessibility?' And we said, 'Yeah, absolutely. There's no reason not to.’”
“We are just in the early stages to leverage BookSMART to make a handful of changes on the airline's website to ensure DOT accessibility compliance"
AirTRFX, another of its products which automatically builds landing pages, is already compliant. Some of EveryMundo’s AirTRFX customers used that compliance to negotiate more time with the USDOT while they worked on the rest of the website.
By whatever means airlines meet the needs of the disabled community they now need to do so quickly and thoroughly. While the extension was granted through to December, the USDOT will expect airlines to follow-through.
Advocacy groups see some positive progress but they believe there’s still a lot of work ahead. As Ed Chandler writes for UserVision:
“We believe that the direction of travel that the airlines are taking is a good one and in time it is likely that the accessibility will be increased. Having had the first deadline pass, all US bound airlines now need to refocus their efforts on their full sites and make those accessible by the end of 2016. Some airlines are already taking steps to address this ‘phase 2’ which is a great commitment.”
Chandler recommends that all airlines work with accessibility and UX experts “who fully understand the needs of disabled people” and conduct usability testing, with disabled people, to ensure satisfactory results.
Related reading from Tnooz:Airline websites fall short as DOT accessibility deadline approaches (July 2016)
New accessibility rules coming to airline websites. Are you ready? (June 2014)
NB Image by Nik Sorokin/BigStock