19th Jan 2017
Be.Accessible Awards New Zealand Tourism Guide Gold
Gold is a coveted benchmark when it comes to rankings, and an indicator of success. New Zealand Tourism Guide is the first New Zealand tourism and travel of its type to achieve a gold accessibility rating, awarded by Be. Accessible.
From small beginnings New Zealand Tourism Guide began operation in 1997, but it is now a leading tourism site in New Zealand, and the first tourism website of its type in the country to undergo an accessibility assessment.
The site currently lists more than 12,000 New Zealand tourism and travel sites and actively works with thousands of tourism operators throughout the country to provide comprehensive information including accommodation, attractions, tours, transport, maps and bookings.
Be. Accessible is a social change organisation that offers a framework for accessibility and aims to create a more accessible country for everyone. Their mantra is that every person has their part to play in the creation of accessibility regardless of how big or small the change. All organisations that undergo an accessibility assessment, and meet the standard minimum requirements, are awarded a rating depending on the level of accessibility achieved.
Around 25% of New Zealanders have temporary or permanent disabilities that mean access to education, employment, and the community can be difficult or limited. Challenges to access can include sensory, physical and intellectual impairment; impaired mobility as a result of accident, illness, age or pregnancy; and mental or physical illness.
Minnie Baragwanath, Chief Executive of Be. Institute encourages others to embrace the growing NZ accessible tourism movement. “We are hugely excited for the team at New Zealand Tourism Guide who have worked hard to ensure that their website is usable and accessible to all visitors wishing to find out more about enjoying our country or their local region. This is a wonderful step change for the Be. movement that the New Zealand Tourism Guide have embraced.”
Kevin Prince, the Be.Accessible Coach who assessed the website, says: “New Zealand Tourism Guide takes accessibility very seriously – it is a complex site, but the team engaged enthusiastically to adapt their original design to meet the needs of access customers.
“They were able to see where the standard web designs were awkward for keyboard users or screen readers and updated their code – innovatively – to meet the needs of all users. We were particularly impressed by the way that they took a map index that only mouse users could use and made an effective keyboard interface without changing the visual appearance. They have also ensured that practical accessibility is at the heart of the content they control.”
Other changes made to the website which contributed to its achievement of the preeminent rating included having keyboard focus visible for low vision users, and the addition of captions to videos on the website which not only suit access customers but non-English speakers.