Robert Acosta, President
Helping Hands for the Blind
From: dan Thompson [mailto:dthompson5@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 7:34 AM
To: dan Thompson
Subject: Focus on the Hospitality Industry, Part III: What's on the Menu: a
Review of Menu Accessibility on Chain Restaurant Websites, Dan's tip for
Wednesday August 2015
Fact of the Day:
Camels are called "ships of the desert" because of the way they move, not
because of their transport capabilities. Camels sway from side to side
because they move both legs on one side at the same time, elevating that
side. This is called pacing, a ship-like motion which can make the rider
Things to Ponder:
Could it be that all those trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren't going as
ghosts but as mattresses?
Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
Focus on the Hospitality Industry, Part III: What's on the Menu: a Review of
Menu Accessibility on Chain Restaurant Websites
By Janet Ingber, Writer for Access World Magazine from the American
Foundation for the Blind
Many chain restaurants have websites that include their menus. This can be a
great convenience if you'd like to know what they offer in advance of
visiting, or if you want to order online or by phone. This article will
review the online menu accessibility of the Applebee's, Denny's, Olive
Garden, Outback Steakhouse, and Red Lobster restaurant chains. Keep in mind
that many local restaurants also have their menus online, not just large
Of course, if you're at the actual restaurant and you have an OCR app such
as KNFB Reader or Abbyy TextGrabber, you can photograph the menu and hope
the app reads it comprehensibly. Another option is to have a person with you
read the menu aloud.
Both Internet Explorer for Windows and Safari for Mac were used to evaluate
website menus. Window-Eyes was the screen reader used for Internet Explorer
and VoiceOver was used for Safari.
<http://www.applebees.com/> Applebee's Online Menu Accessibility for People
with Visual Impairments
Applebee's is a chain of family restaurants serving a wide variety of foods
including burgers, steaks, pasta, and chicken. The restaurants stay open
late and offer a menu for kids.
Applebee's website did not have any clutter. Navigating the site with the
headings, links, Tab key, or Arrows worked well in both Internet Explorer
When I loaded applebees.com for the first time, the site loaded with a
nearby Applebee's location on the homepage. It wasn't the closest
Applebee's, but it wasn't very far. Activating the "Location" link near the
top of the page presents a search box. Results are clearly displayed. With
each result was a link for viewing the local menu.
When the menu page loads, use heading or link keys for navigation. The menu
is broken down into categories, including Entrees & Main Dishes, New Apps &
Bar Snacks, Handcrafted Burgers, Kids, and Lunch Combos.
Activating the "Handcrafted Burgers" link presented a new page with a list
of the many types of burgers served at the Applebee's location I had
selected. Individual burgers could be located with headings or link hot
keys. Each entry contained the name of the burger, what was on it, and the
price. Activating the name link loaded another page with information about
A Nutritional Info link, which opens a PDF document, is provided on all
pages of the Applebee's menu. The VoiceOver Find command or the Window-Eyes
Find command made it easier to find specific items and information. The PDF
document had headings at the top of the page rather than next to the number.
For example, "calories" was a table heading, but the heading did not appear
next to the number of calories for an item.
The Applebee's website worked well with both Safari and Internet Explorer.
It was a bit cumbersome to read the nutrition PDF document, but using the
screen reader's Find command helped.
<https://www.dennys.com/> Denny's Online Menu Accessibility for People with
Denny's had a big online menu that includes categories such as Breakfasts,
Sandwiches, and Dinner Entrees, along with an offering for kids. Links for
these categories were located near the top of the page and were clearly
labeled. There was also a link to download the full menu as a PDF file, but
this feature did not work well with Safari or Internet Explorer.
Activating the "Breakfast" link loaded a page with many options. Navigating
by headings was an easy way to review the choices. Above each breakfast item
heading was a picture with a description. For example, the description for
the Belgian Waffle Slam listed all the items that came with that option.
Below the heading was a "View Details" link.
On the next page, nutrition information such as calories, fat, and protein
was presented in a vertical format that was easier to read than a table
presentation. For example, next to the word "calories" was the number of
calories in the dish. It was inconvenient that the item's price was not
It was possible to find an item on the Denny's online menu and review its
nutrition information with either browser. Including prices would improve
the experience. The inaccessibility of the menu's PDF file was a
<http://www.olivegarden.com/> Olive Garden Online Menu Accessibility for
People with Visual Impairments
Olive Garden serves moderately priced Italian food and includes a menu for
The Olive Garden homepage presented a lot of information, but it was not
cluttered. There were some headings. Links were clearly labeled. The Find
hot key was a useful navigation option.
When the home page loaded, I was immediately asked to allow Olive Garden to
access my location. I chose to not allow access. With both Internet
browsers, this made it impossible to get to the list of items within each
menu category without first manually providing location information. Every
page has an edit box plus instructions to put in a city or zip code before
navigating. Once that information was provided, a list of the closest
restaurants was presented. Each listing contained the restaurant name,
address, phone number, and a "View Menu" link. Once a restaurant was
selected and that link was activated, the menu could be accessed.
The menu for the selected restaurant could be viewed as a grid (default) or
a list. The Dinner menu contained many items including appetizers and main
courses. Just above the selection for grid or list view is a link to show
more categories. When this link was activated, the entire Olive Garden menu
was displayed in specific categories including Appetizers, Lighter Italian
Fare, Traditional Favorites, and Create your Own Lunch Combination.
Selecting the Lighter Italian Fare link loaded several options. Each option
included the price and a link to more information. Selecting an option
loaded a page with a description of the dish. Below the description was a
heading labeled Nutrition Facts and a link labeled Expand. The information
can be read without activating the Expand link, but for VoiceOver, the table
was easier to read when expanded. All the column headings were listed first
and then the numbers were displayed. This made it a bit difficult to read,
but it was certainly decipherable.
The site works well with both Internet Explorer and Safari. Letting Olive
Garden know your location will save you extra work. Unfortunately, the
nutrition information was presented in an awkward way.
<http://www.outback.com/> Outback SteakhouseOnline Menu Accessibility for
People with Visual Impairments
Outback Steakhouse is known for its steaks, but they also offer seafood and
other main dishes.
When the website loaded, I was presented with several options regarding
location access. If you allow location access, the closest restaurant's
address, phone number, and hours of operation appear at the top of the page.
Selections and prices may vary from one restaurant to another.
The website was uncluttered and was clearly labeled. A "Menu" link was near
the top of the page. The next page presented category links including
"Aussie-Tizers," "Signature Steaks," "Bold Combinations," and "Irresistible
Desserts." Below the category lists were links to some of Outback's most
popular items. Selecting a category link loaded a new page with items in
that specific category.
The specific item links had one link labeled with an image and the other
labeled with just the name of the item. In Safari, VoiceOver distinguished
between the links, but with Internet Explorer, Window-Eyes read both links
I selected the link for Outback Special Sirloin. Although it initially
appeared that result was quickly located with the headings hot key, the
first part of the result was about social media. Menu information followed
and included a description of the steak and how it was prepared. No price
For each menu item's description, there was a Nutrition Facts link. When the
link was activated, the resulting page was labeled "Outback Steakhouse
Nutrition Information By Item." However, in Safari there wasn't any
accessible nutrition information. In Internet Explorer, there were combo
boxes broken down by menu categories, rather than one combo box for the
item. Each selected result was displayed in a table with the category
heading and then the nutritional value.
In order to get a price for an item, the "Order Now" link, below the
description, needed to be selected. When the Order Now link was activated,
the first page indicated that before downloading a menu it was necessary to
choose a particular Outback. This is the advantage of letting Outback know
your location. There is a search form where a zip code or city can be
entered. After restaurant information was presented, there were links to
download various menus such as dinner, lunch, and drinks. Menus could be
read with Internet Explorer but not with Safari.
Outback's website performed better with Internet Explorer. Safari was a
frustrating experience beyond reading an item's description.
<https://www.redlobster.com/> Red LobsterOnline Menu Accessibility for
People with Visual Impairments
Red Lobster serves mostly seafood, but they also offer some beef and chicken
Near the top of the homepage was a search box to find a restaurant. Results
were difficult to read since the beginning of the result was a graphic. The
restaurant's name, address, and a link to view the specific restaurant's
menu appeared below the graphic.
When the new page loaded, I used the headings hot key to get to the very top
of the menu. The first part of the menu listed Red Lobster's featured
dishes. In this case, it was their "Island Escape" specials. Further down
are other menu categories including Specials, Dinner, Fresh Fish, and a
I activated the "dinner" link. The next page had various categories
including Soups, Salads & More, Crab & Seafood Bakes, and Lobster & Steak
Combos, followed by an Accompaniments section that provided information
about what can be added to a meal and which side dishes come with entrees.
The "Crab & Seafood Bakes" link displayed a variety of dishes that could be
located with the headings hot key. Each item was well described and included
the price. However, nutrition information was not provided in this part of
Appearing on all Red Lobster pages was a link labeled "Health Benefits of
Seafood." When that link was activated, the next page had a link labeled
"Nutrition Facts." This link loaded a PDF document. VoiceOver could read the
numbers, but could not read column headings. Window-Eyes could not read the
file. I kept getting the message that the document was being processed.
Except for nutrition information, this website worked very well. Both
VoiceOver and Window-Eyes did a good job of reading content in their
Each of these websites had some kind of accessibility issue, some minor and
some not. It is unfortunate that these big restaurant chains still do not
have websites that are completely accessible.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast
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