Accessibility and Expedia Update

Just over a year ago, I blogged (Accessibility and Expedia) about Expedia and Hotels.com settling a California lawsuit from two women who had claimed they were discriminated upon by the web site’s poor highlighting of handicap-accessible hotel rooms. Expedia promised to incorporate various accessibility options, including search capabilities and expanded content.

Expedia's various accessibility search options when comparing hotel optionsLast month, Expedia announced that they added several features in 2009, including:

  • The ability to search hotels by criteria such as equipment for the deaf, accessible bathrooms, Braille, and ease of navigating through the room
  • Their staff following up by contacting hotels for disabled customers to make sure their specific accessibility needs will be met

Expedia provided the statistic that they’ve gotten 500 requests each week related to these accessibility features since unrolling them in August of 2009.

By comparison, Travelocity, Expedia’s top competitor in the online travel arena, has a “Wheelchair Accessible” option among their hotel search options:
Travelocity's accessibility option in their refine hotel search tool

Orbitz has a “Handicapped rooms/facilities” option of their own:
Orbitz's accessibility option in their refine hotel search tool

Those are better than nothing, but Expedia deserves some credit for an actual, extensive means of searching hotels by different disability-friendly needs.

I work in the travel industry and hope this is a sign of good things to come. It took a lawsuit to spur action, but Expedia is making accessibility inroads. Let’s hope this is only the beginning.

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