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Is Your Restaurant Website ADA-compliant?

November 28, 2017  /  by  Michael Westafer

Restaurants Across the US Are Being Sued

More and more restaurants across the country are being sued for operating websites that discriminate against people with disabilities by not meeting ADA-compliance standards.

Earlier this summer, a federal judge in Florida ruled that brick and mortar retailers (in this case, Winn-Dixie) were required to make the same “public accommodation” online as they do in their stores. This applies to restaurants as well.

This means that restaurant websites must be built to be ADA-compliant so that people with disabilities can access the information on their websites. People who are blind or visually impaired, for example, use screen-reading software and websites are required to be compatible with that software.

A New York Post article on the rise of ADA lawsuits reported that NY attorney Jeffrey Gottlieb has filed at least 26 such cases, the majority of which are against restaurants. Gottlieb said, “Blind people have difficulty cooking so they eat a lot of prepared food, but they can’t read the menus online or even get addresses for the restaurants.”

Many restaurants just provide a provide a PDF version of their menu online, but PDFs cannot be read by screen readers.

There are many requirements that must be followed to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and it was estimated during the Florida trial that it costs roughly $37,000 to make an existing site ADA-compliant. Not all web designers are familiar with the standards either.

Since ADA-compliance can add to web development costs and timelines, most agencies will not build to this standard unless you specifically request it.

10 Best Practices for a More Accessible Website

Below are some of the best practices restaurants and retailers should follow if they want to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities:

  1. Provide text alternatives (such as alt tags) for any non-text content, like images or CTA buttons.

  2. Audio and video files must have a text-based equivalent available such as a transcript or captions.

  3. Ensure that content that can be presented in different ways without losing information or structure.

  4. Make content distinguishable – easier for users to see and hear content by separating foreground from background (colors, sounds, etc.).

  5. Make sure all the functionality on your site is accessible from a keyboard.

  6. Give users enough time to read and use your content. (For example, users can stop a rotating banner to read it.)

  7. Avoid media that flashes to prevent seizures.

  8. Provide ways to help users navigate, find content and determine where they are with things like page titles, section headers, breadcrumb navigation, etc.

  9. Make text easy to read – avoid using jargon, unusual words, abbreviations that aren’t explained or text that requires an advanced reading ability.

  10. Make sure your website performs in predictable ways – that the navigation is consistent throughout and links go where users expect them to go.

These guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg to create a fully accessible website. But by opting to create an ADA-compliant site you can ensure your site’s content is accessible to everyone and help protect your restaurant against a possible lawsuit.

Need some more guidance? We can help. Let’s Talk.