Accessibility and Digital Menus For Restaurants

Should restaurant accessibility standards include digital menus? We also take a quick look at the current regulatory environment and how it affects restaurants and digital signage and more.
Accessibility and Digital Menus For Restaurants

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Digital Menu ADA & Accessibility

There’s no question that restaurants and other businesses have made strides in making their establishments more accessible. But even with the increased accommodations that have been implemented, there is still work to be done. That’s why we’re asking the question: should restaurant accessibility standards include digital menus?  Article reprinted from Keyser, a major provider of digital signage displays and digital menu boards.

The short answer is yes! Digital signage can help improve accessibility by providing menus and other information about the restaurant digitally. Digital menus can help restaurants become more accessible and inclusive by making it easier for customers who have trouble reading print or following spoken instructions over the phone. Digital menus don’t just increase sales at restaurants, they make dining out more enjoyable for everyone.

[Drive Thru might be the singlemost largest sales stream for fast food restaurants.  It is estimated McDonalds sales are 65% via drive thru lanes. Now imagine placing TVs outside in blazing sun, or in freezing blizzard]

Digital menus help increase accessibility through simple, intuitive operability and great design, allowing customers to find what they want at every point of their dining experience. Like most public spaces, restaurants are not easily accessible for all. However, digital signage may be able to help increase accessibility for many people. This blog will discuss today’s restaurant accessibility standards, and the role that digital signage can play in creating a more inclusive dining environment.

So, what does accessibility mean?

The idea of “accessibility” is a pretty broad one, with the general definition being something easy to obtain or use. Within the context of restaurants, this means providing the necessary accommodations for every customer to be served. There are all sorts of ways to make things more accessible: making sure there are plenty of parking spaces, making sure locations have accessible entrances and that doors are wide enough for wheelchair users, having ADA-compliant restrooms, wheelchair-accessible seating areas, etc.

Architectural ADA comes into play for curbs outside for example and if EV chargers are present they come with their own ADA requirements.

One thing that hasn’t been considered much in the past is whether digital menus should be included in accessibility standards—if it wasn’t clear enough already, we think they should. So when we talk about restaurant accessibility standards, what we’re really talking about is making sure that all customers—including people with disabilities—can easily get into restaurants and order their food without needing much assistance from staff members or other patrons.

What does accessibility look like for restaurant customers?

Digital accessibility for digital menus

If you’re a restaurant owner, you may have heard the term “accessibility” thrown around quite a bit lately. It’s on your mind because it’s important—and it should be. Accessibility has always been an essential part of the quick-service restaurant industry because restaurant business models are built around ease and convenience. Restaurants want to be able to provide a great experience for their patrons, and one of the most important factors in that experience is how quickly you can get your food. If you don’t have an accessible digital menu, then it can take longer for a customer’s order to go through, which means that if there is anything wrong with it (for example, if the order comes out wrong), then the customer will have even less time to fix it before they need to leave.

But for disabled people who may have different requirements for what accessibility is, these accommodations are integral to being a consumer. For example, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may use ASL when communicating with others, which means that the traditional way of ordering food may be difficult for them, especially if none of the employees know ASL. In this case, a self-service kiosk may be the preferred option for this consumer. People who are blind or have low vision might need large print or braille menus. In either case, if restaurants do not offer these types of accommodations, then customers will not be able to order their food as easily as they would like them to.

The importance of quick access to food for people with disabilities cannot be overstated. Populations with disabilities experience greater risk of food insecurity, so the accessibility of fast food restaurants can actually be a very necessary fixture in people’s lives. 26% of adult Americans have a disability, and they deserve equal treatment from businesses. It’s the job of restaurant owners to provide accessible service options for all consumers.

What types of digital signage may help restaurant accessibility standards?

Drive thru restaurants

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that restaurants provide equal access to all their customers, including those with hearing or visual impairments. One way to ensure this is by incorporating digital signage for guests. Here are the different types of digital signage that can help with restaurant accessibility standards:

  1. Restaurant kiosks: The rise of restaurant kiosks has improved the accessibility of restaurants, as they can be used by people with disabilities to place orders, pay for meals, etc. They can also be used by non-disabled customers to learn more about the restaurant and its offerings, and to simply provide more convenience. This can help reduce wait times for customers who would otherwise have to wait for staff members to complete tasks like printing out menus or taking orders.
  2. Digital menu boards: These are screens that display food and drink options for customers waiting in line at fast-food restaurants or drive-thru windows. Digital menu boards are another tool that restaurants can use to make their menus more accessible. They can display the same information as a paper menu but in a much more user-friendly format that allows customers to read it without assistance or strain.
  3. Drive thru menu boards: Drive-thru menus can be difficult for those who are visually impaired or have other disabilities that make it difficult for them to read from afar. Digital drive-thru menu boards are similar to digital menu boards, but they can often be larger because they’re designed to be read from inside cars rather than outside of them. In addition, drive-thru menu boards provide accommodations for people with physical disabilities that prevent them from entering a store.

How can digital signage provide more accessibility?

Digital signage can be a great addition to your restaurant’s accessibility. One way restaurants can become more accessible is by using digital menus. Not only does it provide an easier process for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons, but it also provides an easy process for neurodivergent people who may have a difficult time communicating verbally. Whether a customer has physical disabilities or they have emotional/mental ones like anxiety or depression, we know that providing more diverse service options facilitated by technology is the best way to accommodate everyone.

Interested in Digital Signage for Your Restaurant?

If you’re a restaurant owner, you’re probably already thinking about what your business needs to do to make sure that your customers can enjoy an accessible dining experience. When it comes to digital signage and restaurant accessibility, it’s all about making sure that every customer has an enjoyable experience at your business. If you are a business owner who wants to create a more accessible restaurant, what are you waiting for?

A Quick Overview of Regulatory Events

The recent news is that the U.S. Access Board has announced its next session which will include EV Charging Stations, Information Transaction Machines, Kiosks and POS. 

  • Important (cannot be overstressed) that not only manufacturers but users need to comment.
  • Once it is closed for comments you cannot insert a single word. During the comment phase all comments are taken, recorded and considered.
  • For POS we think reach may be addressed as well as Audio

ANSI has taken a strong interest in EV Charging. With the passing of NEVI an extremely large amount of funding will be flooding the SLED market. The Kiosk Association is an Associate Partner sponsor of the ANSI Electric Vehicles Standards Panel.

From National Restaurant Association — The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is expected to mark up the revised American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) next week, possibly by July 13. Restaurant operators will have a hard and costly time trying to comply with a number of alarming provisions included in the ADPPA as it’s now worded. For details visit kioskindustry.

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Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu - AVIXA
almost 2 years ago

Providing an easy process for neurodivergent people can create a more efficient space. Those who use ASL when communicating with others may be unaccommodated for if none of the employees know ASL, but using digital signage is definitely a great option to provide accessibility in more ways than one. There are some great aspects to keep in mind!