Online cruise agency Ideal Cruising has made its website accessible to visually impaired users with a “listen to this page” feature.

The agency, which scooped the online agency of the year award and the small cruise agency of the year award at last week’s 2007 Agent Achievement Awards, has made all 6,000 itineraries it sells available to hear via a computer-generated voice nicknamed ‘Audrey’.  

The move puts the agency among the leading Internet companies opening the web up to disabled people. The 1999 Disability Discrimination Act places a duty on website operators to make content available to disabled people.

However, research by Disability Rights Commission in 2004 showed eight out of 10 sites were not complying.

Ideal Cruising web development manager Carla Prosser said there are more than two million visually impaired people in the UK, many of whom are elderly. She added the audible itineraries, which can be downloaded as MP3 files, are a real success with 3% of all visitors using the service since it was launched last week.

“We wanted to provide better accessibility to our customers without having to redesign the entire website,” she said.

The audio service will be extended to the site’s user-generated content, including its customer review section. Also planned is reverse contrast text – white writing on a black background – because many visually impaired people find this easier to read.

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