Last year, the US Supreme Court handed a victory to a blind man who sued Domino’s Pizza because he could not use their website. This man sued the successful pizza chain due to the fact that he was unable to order food from their website or mobile app, despite using screen-reading software.
How did the man win? His attorneys argued that the pizza chain didn’t meet the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires businesses with physical locations to make their websites and other online platforms accessible to people with disabilities.
You most likely know about how to make the inside and outside of your restaurant compliant with federal laws, but have you thought about your website?
To help you sort it all out, let’s look at how ADA compliance helps boost your restaurant business.
What is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design were released by the US Department of Justice in 2010. This act requires businesses to offer and maintain websites that people with disabilities can access and use with ease.
It can be difficult for people with visual issues to navigate many websites online today. Making your website accessible can remedy many of the issues that prevent those from being able to use your website. For restaurants, these issues can be viewing a menu, ordering online, or making a reservation.
Why is ADA Compliance Important for Your Restaurant?
First, you don’t want your restaurant to discriminate against anyone, whether they are in your restaurant or using your website online. Not only will you alienate customers, but you will also hurt your restaurant’s growth.
By designing your website with the ADA in mind, you can stay ahead of the curve, show your customers you care about them, and grow your restaurant.
Your goal is to design your website for inclusivity. It means considering users of various backgrounds, especially your website users who don’t look like the average website visitor. This may be because of a disability, age, or another issue.
Bottom line – you want to safeguard the entire user experience on your website and create a space where everyone is on an even playing field. You don’t want to be the restaurant that someone couldn’t order from because they couldn’t read the copy on your website.
How Do You Make Your Website ADA Compliant?
You’ll find there are three levels of ADA compliance when it comes to making your website accessible to all users. It pays to be proactive and attend to your website compliance, as it not only helps you meet federal guidelines, but it also shows your customers you care about everyone.
The three levels include:
- Level A: Makes your site accessible to some users.
- Level AA: Makes your site accessible to almost all users.
- Level AAA: Makes your site accessible to all users.
Level AAA is a very aggressive approach to compliance and doesn’t apply to everyone. Most people stick to Level AA. Let’s look at a few of the requirements for your restaurant’s website:
- Add captions for your videos.
- Include an audio description of your video soundtracks and provide a link to the soundtrack close to the content.
- Pay attention to site contrast. For example, if you have a light background, use dark text. If you have a dark background, use white contrast. Color contrast on your website is very important.
- Enable your users to resize text up to 200%.
- Don’t use text in your images. Complete your alt tags for all images.
- Enable site search on your restaurant website and include an HTML sitemap.
- Consider your site navigation. Make sure it’s clear, logical, and easy to access. Use a consistent navigation menu on all of your website pages.
- Use descriptive headings and subheadings.
- Make the focus visible by using CSS to add borders or underline elements when they are selected by your website user’s keyboard.
- Add language options.
- Label all of your website elements consistently and again, complete your alt text.
- Allow error suggestions so users know when there is an error and allow your users to correct errors.
How Does an ADA Compliant Website Help Boost Your Restaurant?
There are several reasons ADA Compliance helps boost your restaurant. First, you engender a lot of goodwill. Not only will your disabled customers feel more welcome, but everyone can see you are dedicated to inclusivity.
Second, you may find there are some tax benefits available to you to help cover the cost of becoming ADA compliant. Do check with your tax preparer to learn more.
How Else Can You Comply with ADA Rules?
You can check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that were published by the Wide Web Consortium. In addition to the three levels we mentioned above (A, AA, and AAA), you’ll find more information on how to create a website that’s accessible.
Along with the steps above, the WCAG provides four very broad categories that you can use to ensure your website accessibility. As you design, or redesign, your website, make sure to keep these tips in front of mind.
The broad categories include the following:
- A good goal is a website that is perceivable. This means that everyone can see as much as possible of it. You’ll want very good alt text for your images that explains the content so the sight-impaired can learn about the photo. The site should also be built such that it can be converted into braille, enlarged text, or even speech.
- The website should be operable by people of varying needs. Keep your flashing or moving items to no more than three times per second. Better yet, avoid any flashing content as many users are sensitive to this. You also want content that’s keyboard accessible.
- Create a website that’s comprehensible. Your website should operate in a predictable way – navigation on top or on the burger menu. Simple is always better with intuitive navigation and a great interface.
- Finally, the last broad category states that your restaurant website should be robust enough that it is compatible with assistive technologies. This means screen readers and other technology that can assist the disabled.
Now that you have this website accessibility checklist, you can move forward with your ADA compliance, keep your guests happy, and avoid any potential legal trouble.
Accessible websites improve the user experience for all of your current and potential customers. You’ll find that when you make your website easier for the disabled community to navigate, you make it easier for everyone to navigate.
Consider your website’s ADA compliance as a necessity, not an add-on.
Generally speaking, when you create an accessible website, you improve your search engine optimization, SEO, as well. Why? Google is better able to crawl your website, your pages and navigation make more sense, and simply because Google is happier when you have the best user experience possible.
Ultimately this improves your SEO which in turn makes you rank higher in organic searches, which bring more customers to your restaurant.
Need help with your website accessibility? We are your hotel’s digital marketing specialists. Whether it’s a new website, search engine marketing, social media marketing or advertising, we are here to help. Contact us today to start a conversation about your hotel’s digital marketing needs.