Manchester airport website fails to meet the website disability standards, as the review of the disability travel accessibility assessment criteria demonstrates.
Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Transportation said they are proposing to implement a series of new rules around accessibility to air travel information. This new set of requirements will probably apply to all airports to which Part 382 applies, therefore, including all airports operating flights from and to the United States of America.
Anticipating the requirement may prove a commendable move. Reduced Mobility Rights is conducting a review of the current state of European airports. The review aims to determine if airport websites provide complete and sufficient information to disabled passengers and persons with reduced mobility.
To assist airport managing company in need to improve their website pages dedicated to disability travel assistance, Reduced Mobility Rights crafted the Airport Website Gold Standard, a clear and easy selection of guidelines highlighting all relevant information that needs to be made available to disabled passengers.
Existing websites are assessed using the following criteria: accessibility from the website home page, quality of immediately available content, quality of downloadable content, quality of contact information within the "Special Assistance" page. The assessment of the Manchester airport website dates 27 September 2011. Below is a link to the page. Screen shots of assessed pages date 26 September 2011.
Manchester Airport (opens a new window)
Accessibility from the airport's website home page:
Fails: the disability travel information page is only accessible via the "accessibility" link listed in the "Arriving" submenu in the "at the airport" page. Oddly enough, there is no such link in the "Departing" submenu. The minimum requirement is to have a link clearly marked as "PRM assistance" or "Special Needs" or "Reduced Mobility" or equivalent. Manchester airport website does not meet the minimum requirement.
Quality of immediately available content:
Fair/Room for Improvement: the immediately available page provides some basic information. The link "more information...." towards the end of the page provides additional, better detailed information. What has room for improvement is the link to the disabledgo website. Pitched as mean "to add to our accessibility content to include comprehensive guides and information for your airport experience," the disabledgo pages of Manchester airport do not provide any kind of information. All the tabs we tested returned "Found 0 results".
Quality of downloadable content:
Fails: Manchester airport does not provide documentation available for download.
Quality of contact information within the "Special Assistance" page:
Insufficient: Some information as to the physical location of meeting points is available. However, no contact information such as email, phone numbers (apart from the main switchboard number), and personal contact information of the service provider OCS is made available to the end user.
It is highly recommendable that Manchester airport managing company, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) of which Manchester City Council is the largest shareholder, to take immediate action to overhaul their website section dedicated to disability travel services. It is an embarrassment for the city of Manchester and for the United Kingdom that Manchester airport, 4th busiest in the U.K. with 17,759,015 passengers served in 2010 and Midlands gateway to the United States, has such poor quality standards.