You’re a successful restaurant owner. You do everything right to make your place suitable for all of your customers- you have ramp access, menus in braille and do everything possible to make sure all those coming through your doors feel comfortable no matter what. You don’t have to worry about your website- right? We’re afraid you’re wrong there.
What is ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act means that now, your website has to be built to be accessible for those with disabilities. This act draws from the Civil Rights Act 1964, which protects against discrimination based on sex, race, religion or nationality.
Your website needs to be accessible for the blind, those who suffer from epilepsy, those who are hard of hearing and those who simply need a helping hand when it comes to navigating the world wide web.
Commercial websites have been ruled by ADA as ‘public accommodation’, meaning they have to be compliant with ADA rules. It’s not exactly mandatory yet, but it’s better to be prepared than be caught short when the rules catch up with you eventually.
For now, the ADA requires “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that your site provides for all who visit it.
What is WCAG?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These are published by the Wide Web Consortium and are considered to be the international norm and standard for accessibility. In other words, it’s highly recommended that you pay attention to them, give them a good read and look out for further updates.
There are three levels of guidelines going upwards in complication – ‘A’, ‘AA’, and ‘AAA’. The government took WCAG 2.0 in 2017 and required all federal agencies to be compliant by January 2018, so it’s clear authorities are starting to take action.
Have eateries been caught out?
The short answer is yes.
In 2018, Dunkin Donuts LLC was pulled up by the courts after a blind plaintiff sued the company for having a website he couldn’t access.
An appeal concluded that because the website was a service that worked alongside the public accommodation of the venues, it had to be accessible. Domino’s Pizza LLC has also been caught out, this time more recently in January 2019, for similar accessibility reasons.
What can I do to improve my website’s accessibility?
There are multiple ways you can alter your restaurant’s website to make it ADA compliant. These start off simple but can get more complicated as you go along, so it’s probably a good idea to hire someone to take the job out of your hands and allow you to focus on your food! Here’s a few recommendations summarized from an article by Digital Authority Partners.
- Ways to make your site practicable include making your site entirely keyboard accessible. You can also look at allowing users to either adjust or turn off time limits – they’re mostly unnecessary.
- When it comes to pictures on your site, always include Alt text in your coding so those with screen readers know what content is on the site. Additionally, look into adding full voice descriptions to any videos on your website – this is a time-consuming step but will be worth it in the long run.
- Never include images of text. These won’t be picked up by a screen reader and will mean blind people visiting your website will miss out on important information.
- Do not include flashing content that flashes more than three times per second. This stops your content from being dangerous for those with epilepsy or who are susceptible to seizures.
- Your websites page navigation and structure must make sense to the user and follow a format that is pretty usual. This stops unnecessary complications.
- Make your headers descriptive and uncomplicated so those accessing your site know they’re spending their time looking at what they want to know. If your menu is coming up on the next page, let the visitor know!
- Pay close attention to your color scheme. What may be a good match between the color of the walls and the booths in your restaurant may not be so great when it comes to reading text from a background.
- On a similar note, may sure users can zoom in on your text up to 200% and still be able to read it just as well as its smaller size. This is the same for apps if you have one – some users will be accessing on a mobile that is zoomed in more than average.
Bear in mind that accessibility laws are changing all the time. You’ll need to keep up, and it’s likely your website won’t just need changing once. Make sure to double check when uploading content onto your website that it is always compliant.
Now we know this isn’t exactly the law yet, but it will save you loads of work in the future when it eventually is, and will save you from potential lawsuits in the meantime from those who can’t view your restaurant’s website in the way they expect.
It’s not just your business you should be doing this for, though. Making your site ADA compliant is simply the right thing to do. You should be looking out for all Americans and make sure everyone visiting your website has an enjoyable experience. Or you should consult a marketing agency that can help you become compliant.
It will keep your customers happy, your business bank accounts full and your staff comfortable knowing they work somewhere that cares for all.
Get to changing the way your website and apps work now, and train your staff in ADA so whatever goes onto your multimedia from now on is in-line with the Act. You’ll feel a huge load off your shoulders knowing you’re doing everything right!