Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Focus on the Hospitality Industry What's on the Menu: a Review of Menu Accessibility on Chain Restaurant Websites Part II

Editor’s note: This article was reprinted with permission from the AFB AccessWorld Magazine August, 2015 issue. We have broken it down into a two part series because of Ingber’s thorough research on 5 restaurants. This is part two which list the last two restaurants. Part one was posted in October that reviewed Applebee’s, Denny’s and Olive Garden. Are you looking for dining options during the holidays as an alternative to cooking at home? Exhausted from all the holiday shopping and too tired to cook? Well continue to read on.

4.Outback Steakhouse Online 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.

Picture of a black board menuThe 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 the same.

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 was given.

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.

Conclusion

Outback's website performed better with Internet Explorer. Safari was a frustrating experience beyond reading an item's description.

5. Red Lobster Online Menu Accessibility for People with Visual Impairments

Red Lobster serves mostly seafood, but they also offer some beef and chicken options.

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.

Picture of a plate with lobsterWhen 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 kid's menu.

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 the site.

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.

Conclusion

Except for nutrition information, this website worked very well. Both VoiceOver and Window-Eyes did a good job of reading content in their respective browsers.

Conclusion

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.

This was the last installment of Ingber’s review of the accessibility of menus at chain restaurants. After reading her reviews do you dine at any of the five chain restaurants? If so have you use the on-line menu? If you are visually impaired have you found accessing the menu easy or hard? Do you use any type of assistive technology or low vision aid to read menus when dining out? Share your thoughts and comments with us.

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