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Frankie & Benny’s UK restaurants put Braille on the menu
Frankie & Benny’s have added Braille menus to their restaurants, and are already noticing the benefits.
Over two million people in the UK have a visual impairment. Yet as recently as 2006 a Leonard Cheshire survey found that barely over half UK hotels were able to provide restaurant or room service menus in Braille or large print, making visually impaired people a large group that is still pretty much ignored by a significant proportion of the industry.
With over 160 locations in the UK, Frankie & Benny’s, part of The Restaurant Group PLC (TRG), is one of the country’s favourite Italian-American restaurants. In a move to become more accessible to visually impaired people, in 2007 Frankie & Benny’s UK decided to introduce Braille menus to its outlets.
A recommendation from a sister restaurant within TRG led Frankie and Benny’s to A2i Transcription Services, a specialist in the transcription and provision of alternative formats for visually impaired people.
“Equal opportunities are an important consideration throughout TRG,” explains Becky Smith, divisional marketing manager for the group. “One of the principal challenges in ensuring equality for visually impaired people is to produce menus in Braille which are appropriately organised and easy to ‘read’. Using A2i’s expertise and experience, we were confident about providing our customers with comprehensive and easy-to-use-menus.”
A2i’s team of transcribers redesigned Frankie & Benny’s menus to cater for the specific needs of visually impaired customers. In addition to the transcription, a list of contents was added to the start of each menu, and each new category of food and drink begins on a new page. This helps customers to select their choices very easily.
As an extra service to Frankie & Benny’s and its customers, A2i lists all outlets that provide Braille menus on its online restaurant directory, which is accessible to visually impaired people.
Frankie & Benny’s restaurants also display stickers in their windows that make customers aware that Braille menus are available, showing their awareness and support for their visually impaired customers.
The initiative has already proved a winner for visitors and restaurateurs alike. “Our Braille menus are very popular – a great success. And we’re welcoming more and more visually impaired people each week,” concludes Smith. “Our ongoing relationship with A2i is very reliable. They turn around new menus extremely quickly and deliver high quality on time, every time.”
The last word goes to Lisa Hill, who uses Braille menus: “When I visit a restaurant that offers Braille and large print menus it says to me that the people who run the business recognise all people with respect – that diversity is embraced and that all people are welcome.”
About the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
About A2i Transcription Services
A2i also offers Braille activity sheets, Braille alphabet bookmarks, and computer access solutions.
Bromford Housing Group removes barriers by providing information and advice to visually impaired customers
Bromford Housing Group is an industry leading Housing Association in the UK, providing affordable housing and associated care and support services to customers throughout Central England.
Bromford also leads the market in supported housing, helping young families and vulnerable people to live independently. Bromford Carinthia, Fosseway, HomeZone and Bromford Homes are members of Bromford Housing Group along with BMS Property Care.
As part of its customer service offerings, the Group regularly sends out documents such as letters and magazines to its customers. A number of Bromfords customers are visually impaired, and the Group needs to ensure that those customers have the same access to information as everyone else. It is important to Bromford to provide a service that fits people and therefore customers with sight problems receive all necessary materials in the format that suits them best, at the same time as their sighted customers, to a uniform quality, wherever they live.
To ensure all of their literature supports the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), Bromford actively seeks to offer as many alternative formats as possible in order to reach their entire diverse customer base.
In 2005, Bromford Housing Group turned to A2i Transcription Services Limited for advice, as the company has an established reputation for high-quality transcription solutions with short turn-around times and complementary, all encompassing services.
The Group was looking to develop a long term relationship with a supplier that can create alternative formats of any kind of document on a regular basis, as well as manage the distribution.
A2i transcribe text to alternative formats to give visually impaired people equal access to information, and also provides Braille activity sheets, Braille alphabet bookmarks and computer access solutions for organisations across the UK.
To enable Bromford Housing Group to reach their visually impaired customers, A2i set up a service whereby Bromford supplies them with a customer letter; A2i transcribes it and posts it directly to the customer. This service guarantees visually impaired customers have the same access to information as sighted people, in a timely manner.
Newsletters are transcribed to Large Print, sent back to Bromford, for them to mass produce and distribute to customers, enabling the Group to save money and react quickly to ad-hoc requests of extra copies.
Alex Corns, PR Communications Officer for Bromford, comments: Working with A2i is just like working with an extra team. The processes are so streamlined that I sometimes forget they are a supplier! We send the raw texts of our letters, newsletters and other customer communications to A2i, and we know that the transcribed documents will be returned to us within the promised time and at a very high quality standard. This doesnt only give us peace of mind, it also saves us a lot of money and time, and most of all it provides a highly important service to our partially sighted and blind customers. Our customers feel that were meeting their communication needs, they have access to all the information they need, and stay loyal to us.
Girlguiding UK and A2i join forces to make adventure accessible
Girlguiding UK is the largest youth organisation for girls in the country. Opening up a world of opportunities that will last a lifetime, it provides a safe, girl-only environment in which to experience activities and challenges, and explore issues facing girls today.
The spectrum of activities is enormous, ranging from outdoor challenges to learning new skills and from international travel to involvement in community action projects.
To keep track of activities, record experiences and manage a variety of important information, in 2005 Girlguiding UK developed a handbook for Guides, aged 10-14, called the “G file”.
A year later, the organisation approached A2i to help them develop a large print version of the G file that would be suitable for visually-impaired girls. Girlguiding UK wanted to retain as much of the original design as possible including all photos, diagrams, colourful shapes and backgrounds, as well as the stickers in the back. This would ensure that visually-impaired Guides wouldn’t miss out on anything and would have the same fun in using the handbook as everyone else.
The large print version would also have to fit into the A5-sized ring binders that Girlguiding UK uses to secure the G files.
After a thorough consultation with the client, A2i’s team began to redesign the G file within the constraints given. To make the G file accessible, A2i had to adjust several design features, including using different colour combinations to make them suitable for people with visual impairment, repositioning large print text and images, and redesigning stickers to accommodate large type.
Following approval of the design by Girlguiding UK, A2i produced an initial 100 copies of the large print G file. The organisation and its members were delighted with the result. A2i had managed to produce a G file that appears extremely similar to the original version, ensuring that visually impaired Guides don’t feel any different from their fully-sighted peers. Additionally, the company’s ‘one-stop’ solution had provided cost efficiencies as well as high-quality consultation, design services and production.
Pat Wheatley, administrative assistant at Girlguiding UK wrote: “Thank you for the excellent work on our Guide G file for visually-impaired young members. I know this resource will go a long way to support girls and the leaders and will be very much appreciated.”
The organisation has since ordered the conversion to large print of another Girlguiding UK document with very similar problems, requirements and solutions.
With the introduction of the large print G file, Girlguiding UK has made certain that it meets requirements laid down by the Disability Discrimination Act, and more importantly that it helps all visually impaired members to enjoy the guiding experience to the full.
About the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
About A2i Transcription Services
A2i also offers Braille activity sheets, Braille alphabet bookmarks and computer access solutions.