Of the 15% of the world’s population with some degree of accessibility needs, many are already using technology for travel. Nearly half research travel plans on the Internet, book transport and accommodation online and pay for services through mobile apps. Almost all, however, agree that there are many barriers to a fully accessible travel experience that prevents them from travelling independently and confidently.
This was revealed in a recent study titled Voyage of discovery: Working towards inclusive and accessible travel for all. Amadeus commissioned ILUNION, a consulting firm owned by the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind (ONCE), to create the report to understand, among other factors, how technology can enable these travellers to overcome existing accessibility challenges.
“…We will never achieve inclusive societies as long as everyday life and mobility remains as poorly accessible as it is today. We need to act now and we need to act together. The technological solutions don’t lie in a distant future, they exist today. Accessibility is a must for people and a great opportunity for business. In short, it is about making our society future-proof!” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner, Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, European Commission
Going forward the opportunities for improvement are endless. However, this requires collaboration and partnership between the public and private sectors across the global travel industry. Another finding from the study is that by 2050, an estimated fifth of the world’s population will have some accessibility need due to the ageing population. Interestingly, if accessibility barriers were eliminated travellers would increase their travel budget by 34%.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) were developed through the World Wide Web consortium to provide a single, shared standard for web content accessibility. At Amadeus we have already developed solutions for airline customers based on these standards. Such a standardised approach should spread to other channels so that all global citizens can benefit. There is room for technological innovation at every stage of the customer door to door journey. Over time huge improvements will be made for travellers everywhere through a combination of technological innovation, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality, together with content standardisation and shared technical standards.
Ultimately, a streamlined and comprehensive approach built around traveller needs that addresses the entire door to door travel journey will empower travellers with accessibility needs and afford them the independence and dignity they desire and deserve.
For more insights, download a copy of the report Voyage of discovery: Working towards inclusive and accessible travel for all