Restaurant Accessibility in the COVID-19 Pandemic


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Moreover, as Ontarians continue physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must still make their services accessible. This article will outline ways to develop or increase restaurant accessibility in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restaurant Accessibility in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Contact Information

In response to physical distancing, restaurants have made many changes to how they serve customers. For example, restaurants have developed systems to help customers pick up their food without entering the premises. Similarly, restaurants have devised new protocols for contactless delivery. Therefore, restaurants should alert potential diners to these changes in multiple ways, such as advertisements on TV, radio, or their websites. For example, a restaurant may need to explain:

  • Whether diners can find their menus online or in the restaurant’s window
  • Whether diners can make their orders:
    • From home
    • From the parking lot
  • New protocols for receiving orders by contactless take-out or delivery
  • Changes to their menus or hours of operation

In addition, restaurants must take orders from diners in multiple ways, such as:

  • By phone or teletypewriter (TTY)
  • By email
  • Through their websites

Accessible Websites

Furthermore, 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:

  • Their hours of operation, and what times breakfast, lunch, or dinner are available to order
  • Any reviews or ratings they are required or have chosen to display
  • Accessible online versions of menus

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.

When restaurants have menus on their websites, servers need to be aware of:

  • what menu formats are available
  • how diners can find web versions

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 menus or other information.




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