Online Information for Visitors About the Accessibility of Museums in New Zealand
Upson, Laura Dannielle
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Research attests to the reality that people with disabilities are not provided for, or offered the same opportunities as those without disabilities; nor are they seen as a valued market segment of the tourism sector. Accessible tourism is viewed as the opportunity to enable people with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in tourism services and environments, with the same level of independence, equity, and dignity. For museums within the tourism sector, it is important that they consider the importance of accessibility and information provision, because if they do not, people with disabilities miss out on the museum experience as a whole, so they are not capturing or providing for an important market. The aim of this research was to examine the current provision of online information for visitors about the accessibility of five selected museums in New Zealand: Auckland Museum, Puke Ariki, Te Papa, Canterbury Museum, and Otago Museum. The research had two key objectives. Firstly, it aimed to critically examine the online website content of selected museums in New Zealand to determine the extent to which they communicated information about the accessibility of a museum visit. Secondly, it aimed to benchmark the website content provision of the selected museums against international tourism accessibility standards. This was achieved through the implementation of a content analysis and a case study methodology; the research adopted a qualitative and interpretive approach. The findings of this research revealed conclusions about website navigation, the inclusive approach of website communications, content about accessibility, and access to the museum experience, in the five selected museums. This research concluded that there are multiple gaps between the international accessibility standards of best practice, and the practices of the selected museums in New Zealand. To meet international accessibility best practice, it is important that New Zealand guides or sets recommendations for accessibility standards to which tourism organisations can refer. The contribution this research brings is that it identifies and highlights the online information provision and accessibility problems that museums in New Zealand are not solving for people with disabilities.