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Mar. 28

Helping Michigan Breweries Make Sense of Website Accessibility

Hospitality is an ever-changing industry, but during the course of the pandemic, more significant changes were required to keep businesses afloat. During that time, breweries and restaurants were forced to adapt to the shift to take-out, resulting in a challenge to draw people in. Savvy businesses rose to the challenge of digital advertisement, and while people have started dining in again, the need to maintain a high-quality digital experience remains. 

As a food and entertainment destination, you likely experienced equally dramatic changes in how you prioritize your budget and allocate resources. Since word of mouth and in-store marketing was harder to leverage simply due to health code restrictions, you probably directed your advertising and awareness efforts toward the digital realm. 

And you’re not alone. According to Robert Earl, co-founder of Virtual Dining Concepts, the need for restaurants and breweries to maintain a virtual brand will only grow. “Four to five years from now, there will be very few restaurants that don’t have a virtual brand,” he said. Consumer-facing businesses should prioritize online content and marketing. With more and more attention directed to your website, the need for an accessible browsing experience remains higher than ever.

Why Your Brewery Should Prioritize Web Accessibility

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), it’s important to provide an overview of why your brewery should make your website accessible in the first place. Not only is it a good thing to ensure that you’re serving as broad a customer base as possible, but it helps to minimize the legal (and reputational) exposure you could face should you become the unfortunate recipient of a demand letter claiming discrimination via your website.

Breweries have long been popular hangout spots for those over the legal drinking age. If your business sells food or nonalcoholic beverages to younger crowds, then your brewery has the ability to serve even more customers each day. Having a user-friendly website can be just as important as having an accessible establishment to best serve individuals with disabilities. As you’ll see from the information shared below, a disability can be a variety of things when it comes to using a website.

WCAG 2.2 Guidelines: Conformance and New Standards

Understanding the latest guidelines for the WCAG first requires an explanation of conformance levels. There are three ranked conformance levels: A, AA, and AAA. A is the lowest level of conformity that is still considered acceptable. AAA is the highest level of required conformance. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to aim for AA or higher on each standard.

Compliance guidelines can get confusing fairly quickly. For this reason, we’ve linked some helpful websites that can provide visuals for these rules. While what follows may seem daunting, it’s important to understand the various elements of accessibility.

2.4.11 Focus Appearance (Minimum) AA and 2.4.12 Focus Appearance (Enhanced) AAA

Both of these guidelines refer to focus indicators. Information should be large enough to see, of high contrast, and not be hidden by other content. You can create focus indicators within various design choices, including dotted lines, or glowing effects. Nearly anything works, so long as the indicator is clearly separated from the background and easy to identify. This criterion is especially important when viewing websites from a mobile device. For reference, a four-pixel-thick outline at 22 luminescence gets a level AAA rating.

2.4.13 Fixed Reference Points A

If you have a digital version of your printed menu on your website, then you’ll want to pay attention to this point. This rule states that reference points, such as page numbers, should be uniform across print and digital publications. This maintains consistency across platforms and makes locating information much simpler.

2.5.7 Dragging Movements AA

Dragging is a common movement on websites, especially ones that allow you to create lists or place orders online. If your website allows users to drag items across the screen, then this dragging should be operated by single-point means. So, for a click-and-drag list, a user should be able to highlight their desired item and use a button to move it. If your website already utilizes something like a slider that needs a click-drag to function, be sure that an arrow key can also be used to scroll away.

2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) AA

If you have any non-text interaction targets on your website, such as buttons, drop-down lists, or text fields, then these targets must be 24x24 pixels. This rule is in place to allow those with larger fingers, or who have difficulty with precise finger movements, to touch targets with ease.

3.2.6 Findable Help A

Few things are more frustrating than a website that is not equally navigable across each page. Contact details, including human contact information, mechanisms, options for self-help, and fully automated contact points should remain in the same relative order throughout each of your pages. For example, if your phone number and email address are in your footer on the homepage, then they should also be there on the rest of your pages.

3.3.7 Accessible Authentication A

Forgetting a password is never fun; not having an alternative method of logging in is worse. This rule states that, if authentication requires some cognitive function test, then at least one other form of authentication should be made available. 

Rather than make all users create passwords with multiple requirements, websites with account functions should consider sending a code to a phone number to authenticate or using another previously existing account (i.e. Gmail, Apple, etc.) to sign in. In this way, those with cognitive impairments or problems with memory can avoid getting stuck at the login screen.

3.3.8 Redundant Entry A

Don’t make your customers repeat themselves! Any user-entered information that is relevant at further steps in a process should be auto-populated. If you make deliveries, then there should be an option to select “same as delivery address” on the billing information page.

Navigate Compliance with Ease

Compliance rules can feel like an overwhelming collection of governmental jargon. The good news is that you don’t have to make sense of it alone. 

At the Michigan Brewers Guild, we are now using the AudioEye accessibility tool, which helps to provide a more accessible experience for visitors to our website. To help Michigan breweries and Guild members, we’re excited to announce a special offer you can take advantage of when signing up for your own Standard AudioEye account. 

A Special Offer from MBG and AudioEye

To get started with your own AudioEye account and bring accessibility to your website, visit their Plans & Pricing page to select the plan that best fits your website traffic. When you get to the checkout process, enter MIBEER as the coupon code and you’ll save 10% off your monthly or annual cost! 

At the Michigan Brewers Guild, we remain dedicated to helping breweries across the great state of Michigan focus on their craft and delight their customers. For more helpful resources, or to find out how we can help your brewery have its best year yet, check out our extensive collection of resources. Become a member today to experience everything the Michigan Brewers Guild has to offer!

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