Accessibility is a broad topic which can cover a lot of different areas. Here at Spektrix, we believe it’s a question of diversity and inclusion – it’s not just about physical access, but rather ensuring that the widest possible range of individuals have access to the arts. After all, everyone deserves the best possible experience when searching for, booking and attending live performances, while serving the largest possible audience is also good business.
In this article we’re going to look at how Spektrix can contribute towards the conversation about accessibility within your organisation. We’ll cover the following topics, linking out to further documentation where available:
- Defining accessibility
- Spektrix and accessibility
- Useful resources
You can break accessibility down into three key areas of consideration:
- Physical accessibility: ensuring customers can access your venue(s)
- Availability of tickets: making sure appropriate tickets are available to the widest possible range of customers
- Accessible booking channels: ensuring sales channels are accessible to as many people as possible
Spektrix can’t help much with physical accessibility so, for the purpose of this article and most of the other accessibility-related content on the Support Centre, we focus on the other two areas. The tools available in the system and the experience we can offer in making your website as accessible as possible, will help with the availability of tickets and the accessibility of your booking channels.
Why is accessibility important?
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to aim for a consistent experience for all of your customers to ensure your organisation is as inclusive as possible. Customers with access requirements could potentially make up a large proportion of your audience. In the UK, over 11 million people identify as D/deaf and/or disabled, that figure rises to 63 million in the US & Canada – that’s one in six! By addressing their needs, you’re giving your organisation the chance to reach as wide an audience as possible.
We believe that increasing accessibility is an opportunity, not a problem, and something to be factored into your overall strategy for growth and success – whether your focus is on audience retention and loyalty, or simply appealing to as many customers as you can.
We're committed to working towards accessibility best practice, and as such are proud to be part of Attitude for Everything's Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition - you can read more about Attitude is Everything, and other great access-focused organisations, in this article.
Spektrix can contribute directly to the conversation about accessibility in two main ways:
- The Spektrix Iframes which integrate into your website
- The various tools you can use to facilitate online booking for customers with access requirements
We’re committed to allowing you to make your website accessible to the widest possible audience, which means making sure that all of your customers can do the following:
- Perceive the information presented on the website through one of their senses
- Perform the operations and navigation necessary to complete their booking on the website
- Understand the information as well as the operation of the website
- Access the content with any assistive technology they rely on to use the Internet
With this in mind, we are working to meet the level AA of compliance with international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. Our approach to this goal is to identify and address accessibility blockers, beginning with those which are likely to impact the largest number of users, and to take an iterative approach to making improvements. We will look at both improving current functionality and making new functionality as accessible as possible by design.
Taking an ongoing approach
This iterative approach, as advised by Web Accessibility Initiative, means that accessibility improvements will be ongoing – we will update you as we have more information on how and when these improvements are realised.
When assessing your own website it may be useful to review the Web Accessibility Initiative guidance above and take a similar approach. If you undertake an accessibility audit on your website you may find some easy ways to increase accessibility, such as ensuring all images have added alternative text. It’s important that you make these smaller changes as soon as you’re able, while still planning for those things that need more of an overhaul.
This approach, which represents a sincere effort to continuously improve accessibility with the resources available, is also codified in most access regulations. An understanding of this reality is represented in the Americans with Disabilities Act with the concept of reasonable accommodation and in the undue burden exemption in the UK’s Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations.
Regardless of how you’ve integrated Spektrix into your website, at some point in the booking path your customers will interact with the Spektrix Iframes. We’ve conducted a thorough accessibility audit on our Iframes and from this we know that there are currently some limitations to their accessibility, especially for users relying on assistive technology or those who need to navigate with a keyboard.
While our Iframes are mostly navigable and readable, we’ve identified a few areas where such users may have difficulties, with the most impactful being the process of seat selection.
Recent steps taken to improve the online purchase pathway for partially sighted customers and users of assistive technology, include:
- Enabling users to add alt text to event imagery
- Improvements to colour contrast in our seating plans
- Improvements to the hierarchy of information in our iframes. Invisible to most viewers, these changes aid navigation using screen readers by enabling easier movement between sections - much like the index in a book.
You can read our full findings in our article on Web Accessibility Statements..
Selecting seats online
It’s not currently possible to select seats in the Choose Seats Iframe using a keyboard or assistive technology, as each seat acts like a separate object which the user has to manually move between in order to get to the next one. We’re currently investigating possible solutions to this issue, and will provide more information on what might be possible as soon as we have it.
In the meantime, our Best Available functionality can help make the process of seat selection easier. We’re investigating ways to further improve this functionality but, if you don’t already use it, you may find it helps to reduce the impact in this area.
Suggestions of what you can do
While we investigate possible solutions to the areas of the Iframes which have accessibility limitations, here are a few more suggestions for things you can do to help in the meantime.
Skip to the Iframes
It might be useful to provide a link early on in your website (or on your specific Access page) which allows customers with accessibility requirements to skip straight to the booking path. Content repeated on several pages, like your website's main menu, might be laborious to hear or navigate for customers using screen readers or keyboards every time they navigate to a new page. Adding a link at the top of the page to skip repeated content and go directly to the main content (such as the Spektrix Iframes when customers are in the purchase flow) can greatly improve the experience for assistive tech users.
Make good use of Best Available
If you’re using Best Available, it’s worth actively encouraging customers with access information to use this functionality, making it as clear as possible that this is a useful option for them. Here are a few suggestions for how to do this:
- Make it clear on your dedicated Access page that Best Available is potentially useful for customers who rely on keyboards or screen readers, so that access customers are aware of the option.
- Work with your web developer to style the Best Available option on the seating plan and make it as clearly visible as possible.
- If you’re skipping straight to the booking Iframes (as above), ask your web developer to amend the link so that it defaults to Best Available. There are instructions for how to do this in our developer documentation, and you can see an example of this in the screenshot below.
Use the Express Checkout
The HTML structure of the Express Checkout better follows technical standards, which might make it easier to navigate/use, especially for assistive tech users. There are still some features which aren’t available in the Express Checkout, however, so it’s worth checking whether any of those might prevent you from using this.
Basic styling checks to improve accessibility
Along with your web developer, you have control over the styling applied in the Iframes so can therefore make sure that your styling cover some of the basics:
- Provide enough contrast between text and its background so that it can be read by people with moderately low vision (specific recommendations on minimum contrast available in the WCAG 2.1)
- Help users know which element has the keyboard focus by making the focus visible, for instance by displaying a border around the focused element:
We would recommend reading through the WCAG 2.1 for further information on accessibility improvements that can be made with styling alone.
Access in the customer journey
As we mentioned earlier, both the accessibility of your website (and by extension the Spektrix Iframes) and the tools you use to facilitate online booking for access customers need to be part of a conversation across your business around every stage of your customer’s interactions with your website. Next, let’s take a look through those different stages.
Each customer follows roughly the same steps in a journey, from their very first interaction with your organisation to the point at which they attend a performance and onwards. At each stage there are considerations to make regarding accessibility, from identifying customers with access requirements to in-venue accessibility.
We’ve created a range of best practice articles to help you understand how you can use Spektrix functionality to make sure that customers with access requirements have the most straightforward and user-friendly experience at every stage of their interactions with your organisation. We’re working on more documentation to expand this even further, so keep an eye out for more articles to come.
We’ve broken things down stage by stage, and where documentation is available you can click on the links to read each specific article.
- Identifying customers with access requirements
- Identifying customers once they’re interacting with your organisation, using Tags, Attributes and/or Memberships
- Allowing customers to self-identify their access needs online
- Providing access information: showing customers what’s available
- Using Attributes/the API to highlight access performances online
- Ensuring a smooth booking pathway
- Preparing to visit
- In-venue access & reporting
- Custom reports to inform FOH staff about visitors’ access requirements, etc.
- Using Customer Groups to highlight access needs in the Sales Interface and on scanners
- Sending post-show emails (including dynamic content) and requesting feedback from access customers
- Reporting on access customers’ booking behaviour, using Customer Lists and reports
If you’re looking to improve your accessibility, offer more access performances, promote your existing access offering, or just want to have a chat about best practice, there are loads of great organisations and resources for you to call upon. We’ve listed some of them here.
If you have any further questions regarding where you should direct your queries, or if you have a contact or resource you think we ought to know about, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.