Expedia and Hotels.com have launched a unique suite of search tools designed to help disabled travelers find and book accessible accommodations.

Travelers in the U.S. can now visit Expedia.com to search for lodgings in the U.S. that offer accommodations including accessibility equipment for the deaf, accessible bathrooms, accessible paths of travel, Braille or raised signage, in-room accessibility, a roll-in shower and more.

Once a traveler finds suitable accommodations, they can request one or more of the specific accessibility features on Expedia.com's online Reservation Page. The Expedia.com Customer Service team will review the request and contact the hotel to ensure that the specific traveler requests are met, and will contact the traveler directly to confirm the reservation or to offer to locate a similar room at an equivalent rate at another hotel.

Expedia.com's call center has fielded approximately 500 requests per week utilizing this functionality since its initial rollout in August of 2009. Expedia.com offers more than 15,000 hotels that publish accessibility options.

"We are thrilled to offer this new functionality to our travelers," said John Morrey, vice president, Expedia.com. "It was a much-needed part of the online travel booking process and we are proud to be able to meet the needs of disabled travelers who require accessible accommodations."

Expedia.com continuously updates its services to meet the changing needs of all travelers. Tools such as Fare Alert, Deal Finder, Seat Guru and the new accessibility search functionality help make Expedia.com an easy and convenient place to book.

Hotels.com improves booking experience for disabled travelers

Hotels.com users can now search for lodgings in the U.S. that offer wheelchair-accessible pathways, accessible showers, Braille signage, and/or telephone equipment for the deaf. Customers can also request a room with one or more specific accessibility feature on the online reservation page. All such requests will be reviewed by the Hotels.com customer service agents, who will contact the traveler directly to confirm the reservation or to offer to locate a similar room at an equivalent rate at another hotel.

"These new features let travelers with disabilities take advantage of all the convenience and discounts offered by Hotels.com," said Bonnie Lewkowicz, a travel industry expert and wheelchair user, who has written about the needs of travelers with disabilities. "It's a huge step forward."

The accessibility information is seamlessly integrated into the greater Hotels.com experience. Once a traveler has entered a destination and selected travel dates on Hotels.com, travelers can filter hotels based on accessibility features to find the hotels within their search criteria that can most accommodate their needs.

"Travelers with disabilities can finally take advantage of the smart site features we're most proud of, such as the welcomerewards program, no change or cancel fees and our price match guarantee," said Vic Walia of Hotels.com. "We can't wait for our valued customers to both take advantage of these new features and also let us know how we can improve even further."