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Digital Accessibility for Fine Dining, Fast Food, and Other Eateries

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Menu IconIn previous weeks, we have discussed the user experience of various people with disabilities when searching and shopping online and completing a purchase. Today, let’s take a trip to the digital food court and look deeper into dining.

As more dining establishments use the web for sharing menus, taking reservations, and processing online orders for pickup or delivery, feeding your customers’ need for an accessible site is key.

The web opens up new opportunities for people with disabilities. When restaurants have an accessible online presence:

  • Sight is not necessary.  If the website is coded correctly, menus are accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Rather than needing to read a menu at the table or mounted above the counter, hungry customers can use a screen reader to read the menu at home or accessibility features on their smartphone to access it in the restaurant.  
  • Socializing via phone not required. Ordering food or making reservations used to require hearing and clear speech. Now, individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired, have difficulty speaking, or struggle with anxiety can get food easily.  
  • Options abound! Today, there are companies that pick up and deliver food from restaurants that do not offer their own delivery services. For people who cannot drive or are housebound, this is a great way for them to be “regulars” at your restaurant without ever needing to step foot in the door.

These customers are craving your signature dish—you know the one. It’s a must have, and they want it tonight. But they can’t satisfy their grumbling stomach because your website is not accessible. Inaccessible websites make for hangry customers, and everyone in food service knows that hangry people are terrifying (and don’t become regulars). 

Some of the major accessibility barriers found on dining websites include: 

  • Improper field labeling. Labels are invisible to most users, but vital to people who use a screen reader. Those labels tell them whether a field is for “name” or “credit card number.”  An improperly labeled form can leave your customers frustrated, hangry, and clicking away from your site to buy from a competitor.  
  • Captchas prevent purchases. Captchas may not just be a robot repellant, but a customer repellant, too. Who wants that? It can be challenging or impossible for your blind, visually impaired, and hearing-impaired customers to correctly complete a captcha. Even with alternative options, customers can experience challenges.  
  • Using color as a sole method to communicate errors. Customers who are low vision or colorblind are going to be left in the dark if errors are communicated with only color, for example, making the border of a form red. Those customers will not know where to look to correct the error and submit their order. 
  • “Invisible” images. Every dining establishment wants their customers thinking, “Oh!  That looks good! I’ll just add one more thing… But, if your image fails to provide alternative text or has insufficient alternative text, you will miss out on that add-on revenue from your blind and visually impaired customers.  
  • Online-only discounts. While it is great to publish a special coupon on your website, social media accounts, or email list if sales need a boost, these discounts should be accessible to all customers if they are unable to order from your website. (And while you’re at it, be sure the image of your coupon has alternative text!)

lindsey iconLindsey is listening to Pandora. During an ad, a local diner announces a discount. She loves that diner. All she has to do is order $15 off their website for pick-up or delivery. But, Lindsey, who is blind, relies on her screen reader. The diner’s website has no alternative text to assist her with the functional images at checkout… does “Button” mean “Pay” or “Cancel”? 

Ty iconTy relies on switch control to navigate the web. He wants to order pizza for delivery. But, the checkout pages are on a timer. Ty has tried multiple times to complete checking out in the required time, but he can’t and there’s no option to request more time. So, Ty decides to order from a pizzeria that’s more web accessible, but farther away and more expensive.  

Want to Learn More?

Download WhitepaperDownload our whitepaper, Making Retail & Dining Websites Accessible to People with Disabilities, for more information and tips for retailers and eateries.

Don’t feel like reading a whitepaper? We understand. Access the resources from our free, on-demand webinar, Less Risk, More Revenue: Accessibility For Retail and Dining Websites.

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