Heathrow demonstrates commitment to online accessibility

Heathrow logoHeathrow helps more people fly to more places than any other airport in Europe, handling over 200,000 passenger journeys every day.

Providing good communications is vital to Heathrow’s continued success. It is also a vital element of the company’s key commitment to ensure a positive journey experience for every customer – in the air, at the airport and on Heathrow’s website.

As well as being fully committed to meeting the requirements of the Equality Act, Heathrow aims to be world class in their web position. This includes ensuring the airport’s website is as accessible as possible to everyone, including those with visual, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments.

The challenge

Heathrow has, over the past ten years, looked to AbilityNet to audit and advise on improving the accessibility of some of its key websites.

With a formal service agreement in place since 2011, we had been assisting Heathrow with the initial design and drafting of its core site – Heathrow.com. More recently, the airport commissioned AbilityNet to carry out a full accessibility study of the emerging site.

An audit of a website’s code can be extremely useful and give a general indication of compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Comprehensive user testing, however, can throw up many additional issues affecting how easy the site is to use for people with different health conditions and impairments.

The accessibility study

AbilityNet’s consultants carried out a detailed technical audit and combined this with a series of tasks set for disabled testers to check and comment on key user journeys. The testers were drawn from a bank of over 100 volunteers covering a very broad range of different impairments.

Our expert team reviewed all the results and identified a number of key issues that they subsequently worked on with the web team at Heathrow. We also provided a video of the user tests which the airport found to be extremely useful in bringing home to a much wider team the many challenges people with disabilities face when using the internet.

Benito De Rosa, Heathrow’s Digital Content Manager, found that the accessibility study gave his team a much clearer insight into how their developing site actually worked for people using screen readers and other assistive technology. Benito says:

“The accessibility study gave us the knowledge, understanding and skills to build a website that is intuitive and easy to use for everyone. It helped us to really appreciate the real-world usage of our site and the changes needed to make it much more usable for everyone.

“Technical monitoring against standards is important, but not at the expense of users’ experience. What really counts is making the site as accessible and usable as possible for everyone.”

“Heathrow is striving to improve every passenger journey and we have now asked AbilityNet to accredit our website and independently verify the reality and strength of our commitment online.”

Speak to our experts

We offer tailored accessibility and usability support to clients from all sectors.

Speak to our experts about your project and we will advise on a bespoke accessibility strategy to meet your specific requirements.