6 December 2019
Accessible Menus and Restaurants
Growing up, dinner out in a restaurant was a rare treat for a special occasion. Fast forward 20 odd years and it’s less of a treat and more of a convenience for a fast moving busy world.
Years ago, a member of staff would come to you with a pad and pen, take your order and serve you. Today it’s all done electronically via phones and tablets, you don’t even need to ask for the bill. Your bill can be settled with an app on your smart phone. It would appear that the restaurant trade is easily keeping up with the modern world and making their services quick and easy to use for all! Or are they?
Let me talk to you about accessibility. Across the UK in the last few years, understanding and accessibility has improved a great deal, this is in some part due to a rise in initiatives being carried out by Government which has led to a push on equality and awareness of the needs of people with disabilities within businesses, media and social media. Social media has provided a much needed platform to increase awareness around so many types of disabilities both visible and hidden.
However, there is still room for improvement and more can and should be done to give consumers equal opportunities – whatever their ability.
For example, millions in the UK are living with hearing or sight impairment, learning disabilities, mobility and physical impairments as well as invisible disabilities.
How would a visit to a favourite restaurant be for a person with one of these disabilities?
Would it be the same experience as for those who do not have a disability?
I love to eat out as it’s quick, easy, sociable and there are no dirty dishes at the end. I enjoy looking through the menu and having conversations with my family or friends about what we are going to order and if we will share a side or 2, but not before carefully looking through the wine list!
However, I am also able to speak from experience. I know all too well how frustrating and overwhelming and quickly isolating eating out can be especially if you have someone in your party with a disability.
Of course most restaurants have considered the very basics in physical accessibility in the sense of ramps or wide doors for easy access, accessible toilets, and staff training.
But imagine for example being that customer with a visual impairment when ordering food. Why shouldn’t they have a menu available to them in the format they need? By providing a menu in large print or Braille it not only gives that customer the same experience as all the other diners, it allows them to be part of the social experience of being able to read and discuss the menu with the rest of their party and not needing to rely on someone else to read the menu to them. They may well be eating alone and would have possibly already accepted assistance getting to their table and perhaps the toilet, so having something as simple as the menu in the format they want allows that person to be independent.
Ultimately eating out as a visually impaired person should be the same as eating out as a sighted person.
Here at A2i we believe that everyone has the right to access information easily. We can make something as simple as menus in restaurants accessible for various needs. Not only would it help towards delivering a high standard in customer service it would also make a huge difference to the person enjoying their meal.