Do restaurants need an ADA compliant website for ordering?

If you don’t know, you probably should!

The Americans with Disability Act or ADA has been around for decades. The act was enacted in 1990 and had no mention of compliance for websites then. It was 2003 when the United States Department of Justice mandated websites to be highly ‘accessible’ for the disabled. Today, apart from the physical establishments, restaurants across the country need to have websites that are ADA compliant!

Do you know there were over 2256 ADA related lawsuits against restaurants and other businesses in 2019 alone?

The food service industry is the second most hit niche for ADA lawsuits in the United States. Restaurants, cafes, wineries have all been sued by people under ADA for having trouble viewing the websites. Where Federal law makes it compulsory for the restaurant website to be digitally accessible, the Department of Justice has not outlined what makes a website ‘accessible’.

Let’s move ahead and explore the grey area which makes businesses vulnerable to ADA lawsuits:

ADA Compliance & Restaurant Industry

For any restaurant owner, website accessibility should be at the top of their to-do list. WCAG 2.0 compliance is the minimum standard in which restaurants should meet. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG 2.0 guidelines talk about making website perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

In simpler terms, website visitors must be able to perceive the information presented to them easily. Each and every website interface component should be navigable and operable. Information and site operations should be easy and robust so that everyone can comprehend the content and take action.

Must-have features for website accessibility for restaurants

Keyboard Navigation

Restaurant websites should support superior keyboard navigation. By that, it means each website element should be accessible via Tab key. Restaurant owners must understand that there are keyboard-only users out there. The Tab key should hover on every site element.

Accessibility Toolbar

For any visitor, an interactive accessibility toolbar enhances visibility manifolds. Guests who need assistance in adjusting the text size for better reading or alter the color contrast can find the feature really helpful. Accessibility toolbar can also have audio playback options to aid the navigation of visitors on the website.

Text-based Menus

For any website to be digitally accessible, text-based menus are a must! People with visual and hearing impairment often make use of screen readers to scrap and understand the content of a website. The website should support scannable text and not just menus on images.

All media must have subtitles/transcripts

Auto-playing videos are a big No when we talk about ADA compliant websites. The feature can be a big turn-off for users with sensitive hearing. Besides disabling auto-play for videos, consider adding captions for people with hearing disabilities. The same principle applies to any audio content you have on your website. Make sure the subtitles and transcripts are correct and easily accessible.

Having an official ADA compliant WCAG 2.0 certification for the website is imperative. A study done in 2018 has found that one in five Americans is associated with some form of disability. Restaurant owners must revamp their websites to make them more accessible than before while following the guidelines under WCAG 2.0. Ensuring your website complies with ADA is a must to serve as many as patrons.