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Meeting the customer service standard: restaurant menus

All businesses with at least one employee will have to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Customer Service Standard (CSS) taking effect January 1, 2012.

Restaurants need to have a policy on allowing people to use their own assistive devices to access your goods and services, and that includes your menu.

Some restaurants might have Braille and large print menus, but what if your potential customer can’t read either?

What if a customer asks your server to read it to them, not just once but twice?

What if you have a number of customers asking for this option at the same time? Does it make good business sense to tie up your employees in this manner? Can you refuse?

On the other hand, what if the customers do not want a server to read it to them at all, but want to use their own assistive device. What do you do?

Currently there is another way for you to fulfil the law; it is an online service called aMENU.

Originally, it was designed to let people who are blind and partially sighted access it with their assistive devices or screen readers, but it soon became apparent that anyone with Internet access could also take advantage of it, and that includes mobile devices. A person doesn’t even need to be in your restaurant to view your menu. Tourists perhaps?

aMENU also has a number of different options:

  • Regular and large print, black text on a white background
  • Regular and large print (high contrast), white text on a black background
  • Off-white for those with Dyslexia
  • Mobile versions of regular and high contrast

All of a sudden, your menu has become accessible to a larger market of clients, and you are fulfilling the CSS!

But wait!

Some of you say you have a menu on your website and also in a PDF.

Sorry to disappoint you, I’ve seen many of your websites and along with your PDFs they are not accessible either.

Hang on a sec you chime back! I’m on Facebook, Goldbook and a number of other restaurant-related websites.

Again, sorry to disappoint you, I’ve been to them as well and they’re just as inaccessible, and of course you can’t rely on others to deal with your accessibility concerns, they’ll have their own to contend with.

So we’re back to fulfilling your obligations under the CSS and at this point aMENU is a service that can help in the absence of the choices you have to offer.

Owners can view a presentation or visit a live menu at Macy’s Diner & Delicatessen.

There are fines for not complying, ranging from $200 as an administrative penalty to as much as $50,000 to $100,000 a day. Is it worth the risk when a reasonably priced service like aMENU can address this, while increasing your bottom line at the same time?

The new standard isn’t designed to turn business upside down, just do things differently to accommodate, in the end we all benefit.

Geof Collis
Accessible Web Designer and Consultant
AODA Forum

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2 thoughts on “Meeting the customer service standard: restaurant menus
  • What a great article Geof! I have been telling a lot of people about aMenu and I get the EXACT feedback you have addressed: ‘we already use Facebook, Goldbook, PDF’s…” and the list goes on.

    aMenu breaks through all of those barriers. And of course, the fact that aMenu can be used by anyone that uses a hand held device is simply ingenious.



  • Great article Geof. Welcome,