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?

  • 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 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 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 at 7:50

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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