Making Travel Accessible for Everyone, Everywhere

Here at, we create products that open doors to a world of experiences, for everyone, everywhere. This means giving people information in a language they understand. It also means making sure our products are accessible to anyone who wants to use them. This is where our Accessibility team comes in.

They work in two ways. The first is making sure differently abled guests and partners – such as those with partial vision, blindness, dyslexia, deafness or limited movement – can search, book and manage properties independently with the assistive tools they use. The second is to ensure information about accommodation and experiences accessibility is sourced from various partners and is easily available to differently abled people, so they can choose the right place for themselves.

Essentially, we’re helping “people experience the world by making travel accessible,” says Judith Yaaqoubi, Senior Product Owner at, who is tasked with improving the accessibility of our product offering.

The Challenge

Making our UI accessible and highlighting accessible accommodations and experiences in our content is no easy task.

“We have complex user experiences to solve, and some have no good guidance in how to do it in the web accessibility community. Which means a steep learning curve for our developers, both the ones working on this directly and also the rest of front-end IT department” says Salvatore Iozzia, Booking Experience Product Owner, who works on making our site more accessible for the visually impaired.
So what is meant by a ‘complex user experience’? Salvatore has an example: “We have a very elegant date-selection experience for people who can see our date-picker widget. For those who cannot, it becomes a very complex experience to translate into a linear step-by-step process required to make the date selection accessible and usable by screen-readers and key commands.”
This is only made more challenging because we are constantly experimenting on our product.  Features and UI change all the time…and fast. This can frustrate a user who requires accessibility features and methods in order to use our products and services. Judith points out, “Such rapid optimisation, innovation and development means everyone also has to be aware of accessibility usage. Designing and coding within accessibility standards is a challenge we are addressing.Not only through tools, but also through awareness.”

The Solution

Removing barriers to travel experiences is what we’re all about at How are we doing this for customers and partners with different kinds of abilities? The answer is through understanding and, of course, innovation.

For instance, “to unblock screen reader users, we have to become screen reader users ourselves,” says Salvatore. “We have created a tutorial, so any developer within can understand how to use a screen reader.” This seemingly simple – although when it comes to accessibility, nothing is ‘simple’ – solution, alongside accessibility training for every new designer or developer joining the company, has made significant progress in-terms of the accessibility of our products.
It’s not only in screen reader unblocking that we’re making headway. We’ve created tools that enable us to identify and address WCAG Level AA errors (these are accessibility-related errors in our code, for all non-techies reading this), an area which Salvatore says “progress is steady” having reduced 80% of errors in the main website already.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of all, however, is’s own momentum. We test, implement, innovate and change our code at incredible speeds. And as Salvatore says, “changing IT is the hardest,” but collaborations across teams and development tracks are happening all the time. We also carry out monthly lab accessibility testing to audit our products, which help us prioritise in solving accessibility issues.

The Future

Fixing legacy problems isn’t all the Accessibility team does. It’s always looking to the future too. We’re developing a product for voice-enabled devices, such as Google Home, Amazon’s Echo and others across the market. As Judith explains, “We know from our community how helpful voice assistants are for anyone struggling with technology, but can speak and hear well enough. We aim to add functionalities to that help our users experience the world through voice.”

In terms of accommodation accessibility, Judith says that while we “already have basic information on our website to allow users to make an informed decision,” there is still “room for improvement.” The team is looking at new content we can provide to make it even easier for people to make the most informed decision on where to stay, wherever they’re travelling.
Both Salvatore and Judith are optimistic for the future. Salvatore points out that at the moment, “not every screen reader works the same” but as they go from “third-party software to built in, from Apple, Microsoft and Android” we will hopefully see “more stability in requirements” and that will invariably make it easier for our teams to develop the product while improving the experience for those using screen readers. He’s also excited by the development of chat and voice interfaces, and the work he and his team are already doing to leverage those technologies.
Whatever lies ahead for our product, travel and technology, our Accessibility team will be working hard to make sure everyone in the world can benefit from it.

Explore a world of possibilities

At, we make it easier for everyone to experience the world. We began by taking hotel bookings online over 20 years ago and we’ve been shaping the travel industry ever since. Today, we’re building a platform that connects every part of a trip – from a great place to stay to getting there, getting around, seeing the sights and sampling local life.