Are you a restaurant thinking about the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA?

Posted on October 18th, 2017 by Breck Hapner

An often overlooked virtue of web design, web development and self-service kiosk technology in the restaurant industry are the ADA benefits to the disabled. For many the technology may be just about convenience, but for others, it can be the difference between your establishment and somewhere else.

Juke Slot, a provider of kiosk solutions, saw this need and created the technology to transform a traditional self-service kiosk to display a virtual avatar that communicates directly with the hard of hearing via sign language.

Here’s a scenario that happens probably more often than not. A hearing-impaired customer is unable to communicate to the cashier what, exactly, they want to order, so they write it down. The handwriting is difficult to read, and so the order is incorrect, and must be remade.

Kiosks and web technology services for restaurants helps eliminate this miscommunication by ensuring that those with language barriers or hearing disabilities are not misunderstood.

According to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communications Disorders, about 15 percent of Americans (~49 million ppl) are deaf or hard of hearing —  for the most part, restaurants cater to these folks with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, asking them to write down their order but the truth is, most deaf people read and write at below a fourth-grade level.

What the ADA Requires restaurants should provide disabled customers the ability to order, purchase and enjoy a meal just as any other patron.

Unfortunately, within the last few years, lawsuits from the deaf or hearing-impaired has increased tremendously. This may be a result of more and more hearing-impaired individuals becoming aware of their rights, and the increasingly perceived ease at which restaurants and other businesses can assist and provide proper assistance. In short, the technology solution is available in the market, and people feel businesses should provide it.

Things to consider: Things many people take for granted, like navigating the internet, is particularly challenging for people with vision impairments. There are specialized web browsers and software that can assist these individuals, and web developers and so it might be good to discuss these things with your web developer.

Here are some preliminary suggestions for creating an ADA-Compliant restaurant website:

Images

Screen readers and braille displays are two technologies that allow people with visual impairment to use the internet. But neither device can interpret photographs or other images. So, in order to make images work for these devices, you need to a dd a text equivalent to all images. All tags should be descriptive of the photo content and not the page content (avoid things like “picture1”). To be safe, add these descriptors, or alt-tags, to all images from website background to photos used in each page.

Color and Font Size Choice

Unfortunately, things like this often are not a “one size fits all” situation, for instance, some individuals may see better with light text on a dark background, while others may require the opposite. The takeaway: Users should be able to manipulate these choices in their browser, so your online ordering design should ensure that possibility. Also remember to include a text size option on your website so people can choose a size that helps them read most easily. 

Videos

For video content, it’s best to make them closed captioning enabled for people who suffer form hearing loss, and that they avoid things like rapidly flashing lights, or other things that may disrupt individuals who suffer from seizures. Or you could simply add your own captions or text transcript of the video content.

Overall, it is important to create predictable, readable, and adaptable content that can be presented in a variety of ways without losing information that is valuable to your customers.

Integrating ADA Compliance Into Your Digital Properties

If you are interested in implementing ADA Compliance, DineEngine® can help you accomplish that goal in the most effective manner possible. We are also experts at developing highly engaging and comprehensive apps that encourage customer engagement. Tell us about your goals and we can design an application that will turn the occasional customer into a loyal patron.