Tourism tweaks website to assist hearing and vision impaired viewers


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The V.I. Tourism Department has redesigned its website so people with disabilities can explore all the territory has to offer.

The website - www.visitusvi.com - will now include closed captioning for videos, updated navigation, improved page layout, and greater contrast on pages to assist the vision impaired.

According to the department, accessibility is the goal of the new features.

While the site has been 100 percent compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act for some time, the new changes elevate the experience for visitors with disabilities, Tourism officials said.

"As a U.S. territory operating under U.S. law, the USVI is aiming to take the lead in the Caribbean with accessible lodging, attractions and other options to provide a barrier-free travel experience," Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said in a prepared statement. In addition to improving the user experience for people with disabilities, the changes include an updated home page design with information about the Tourism iPhone app and the USVI Blue Flag certification program.

A new page has been dedicated to information on St. Croix casinos as well as a page dedicated to cruising to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"Our website remains the single most important marketing tool for promoting the U.S. Virgin Islands around the world, so we are continuously investing in upgrades to ensure all prospective visitors have access to useful information about the destination," Nicholson-Doty said.

In February, the department translated its website into Danish in an effort to increase the number of visitors from Denmark to the territory. The department's website now is available in English, Spanish and Danish.

The department's website averages 75,000 visitors per month, and visitors spend an average of 4 minutes and 40 seconds on the site researching the destination.

Tourism's current website design first was launched in January 2009. The funding for the website was included in Tourism's $11 million contract with advertising firm J. Walter Thompson. Their sister agency Studiocom designed and programmed the site at a cost of $250,000.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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