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Providing Accessible Restaurant Information

Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In our last article, we outlined some of the features that can make restaurants accessible. This article will cover best practices for accessible restaurant information, especially menus. Restaurants can welcome more diners when they make sure that more people know about them and what they serve.

Accessible Restaurant Information

Websites

Diners can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Therefore, restaurants should ensure that their websites follow these guidelines. Moreover, they should post accessible versions of any printed information, such as signs in their windows,  on their websites. For instance, they should post:

  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Their hours of operation, and what times breakfast, lunch, or dinner are served
  • Any reviews or ratings they are required or have chosen to display
  • Accessible online versions of menus
  • Whether they have menus in any other accessible formats

Menus

A central feature of restaurants that should be accessible is the menu. More diners can read their own menus when they are in accessible formats, including:

  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Online on accessible websites
  • Accessible Word or html files

Servers should tell every diner about all the formats their menus are available in. Diners remember restaurants with menus that they or their loved ones can read.

Restaurants can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. When restaurants have menus in these formats or on their websites, servers need to be aware of:

  • What menu formats are available
  • Where hard copies are kept
  • Whether another branch or location has hard-copy Braille or large print
  • How patrons can find web versions
  • Whether alternate-format versions are up-to-date

If there are differences between the current printed version of the menu and the version a diner can read, servers should know what the differences are. For example, managers can keep a printed list of the differences clipped to the Braille version of a menu. Servers can then remind themselves of what the differences are while they carry the menu to the diner. They should then go through these differences with the diner, in the same way that they alert all diners to specials.

Our next article will cover how restaurant staff can create an accessible dining experience, including what to do if locations do not yet have accessible restaurant information.