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I'm a UX/UI Design student working on a competitive audit. I'm checking the accessibility of the websites with a screen reader and noticed that restaurants usually have a PDF menu which is not compatible with a screen reader (but in some cases the screen reader can read it). I understand the reason why they have a PDF menu but if I was blind, I would love to hear the menu too.

Any opinions?

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  • Hi Lisa, PDFs can be made accessible - is there a study that shows that most restaurant menu PDFs are not? Another thing to consider is that restaurants might have Braille menus available on request, which might satisfy accessibility requirements.
    – Izquierdo
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:37
  • Hi Izquierdo, I know that they can be made accessible, but I noticed that most of them are not made accessible. Braille menu is a good option in real life, but not online.
    – Lisa Barta
    Oct 14, 2021 at 12:27
  • Is this the question: Can you say that a restaurant website is not accessible if it offers the menu only in an inaccessible PDF?
    – jazZRo
    Oct 15, 2021 at 7:50
  • @LisaBarta are there still points unanswered? What are you looking for with the question “Any options“? For whom?
    – Andy
    Apr 25, 2022 at 9:47

1 Answer 1

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If the menu is only available via PDF and the PDF is not tagged, then the website is not considered accessible.

However, if the menu is also part of the main website (ie, the menu is available in html like the rest of the page) and assuming the menu is using semantic html and that the rest of the restaurant site is accessible (huge assumptions), then the website would be considered accessible even with an inaccessible PDF because the menu is available in a "conforming alternative version".

Note that I'm using "conforming alternative version" in the opposite way it is typically used. Usually that phrase is used if your main website is not accessible but you provide an alternative version of the website that is accessible. The alternative version you provide is considered the "conforming alternative version". An alternative version is generally discouraged because it tries to give a "separate but equal" experience for all users. It's best practice to make the main website accessible.

In summary, the best user experience is if the main website is accessible and any PDFs on the site are also accessible. But the website can still be considered accessible even if it provides inaccessible PDFs as long as the info in the PDF is available somewhere else on the site in an accessible format.

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  • Definitely the best option to provide the menu on the site. I would argue, though, that even a tagged PDF cannot be considered accessible, as it does not provide reflow. Already users without visual impairment have troubles reading these menus on their phones, which makes the majority of a restaurant site’s traffic. Interestingly, EN 301 549 requires reflow also for PDFs to be conform (10.1.4.10 Reflow (Non-web documents)
    – Andy
    Apr 25, 2022 at 9:45
  • If you zoom a PDF document to 400%, it's going to have both horizontal and vertical scrollbars so there's no way to satisfy 1.4.10. A PDF falls under the exception to 1.4.10 from "Except for parts of the content which require two-dimensional layout". PDF requires scrolling in two dimensions. Apr 25, 2022 at 23:48
  • Why would a PDF “require” two-dimensional layout, while a website does not? To me it’s a technological shortcoming which simply does not satisfy this condition. It shouldn’t be exempt from it, and this only confirms that PDF is not a practical format for use on screens.
    – Andy
    Apr 26, 2022 at 6:29
  • Actually, I just found this: > PDF offering reflow > In a PDF created to conform to PDF/Universal Accessibility (ISO 14289), the content can be reflowed and zoomed in to make reading possible for someone with low-vision. w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/Understanding/reflow.html#benefits Very interesting, I’ll investigate (:
    – Andy
    Apr 26, 2022 at 6:38
  • I'm not a PDF guru but my general thought of PDF documents are that they're "fixed" in size. Increasing the zoom level just makes the document bigger. A PDF doesn't reflow like web browser content does. If you resize your web browser while looking at this page, you'll see that paragraph text reflows to the current width. It's one of the great things about browsers. But you don't get the same reflow behavor if you resize your Adobe Reader window. Apr 26, 2022 at 18:14

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