Is Your Restaurant ready to Serve Everyone!
By Jamila Dawoodi
Diners with Visual Disability
Who doesn’t love going out to eat great food? Quality time with friends and family and no dishes to clean up? But for the millions of people with blindness and visual disability it’s not an easy task to visit anywhere and feed themselves.
If you run a restaurant, you’ll understand that customer experience is just as important as ingredients and when it comes to improving the experience for your customers with visual disabilities it’s a bit of a hard thing to practice but we’ve got the recipe for you to serve all.
A crucial part of the experience of dining out, especially somewhere new, is seeing what’s on the menu! That expectation is the same for people with blindness, but unfortunately, many restaurants don’t offer accessible menus.
You can adhere to ADA laws, and win points with all your diners by providing menus in accessible formats like braille and large print. If you have an online ordering system, make sure your menu there is also accessible. They need to go through a process called Section 508 remediation, that meets WCAG 2.0 AA Standards.
Another great accessible option is audio. Also, this isn’t just for people with blindness, visual disability, or low vision. People with a reading disability can also benefit from audio menus.
When you take the decision to provide accessible menus, don’t go for the value meal option. Select an accessible document partner who will analyze your menu and structure the accessible formats in ways that make sense for your patrons. High-quality menus save everyone’s time and can increase sales. When a menu is well-organized, the customer can navigate through it quicker and focus on what he or she really wants to be looking at. Also, when a person can take their time browsing through the menu, they are likely to order more accompaniments (like beverages and appetizers).
It Starts with a Service
Just because a person has a visual disability, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t expect, and receive great customer service. But, sometimes, a server’s inexperience can bring misunderstandings, or worse, unintended discriminatory behaviour.
Make sure your servers know that guide dogs are not pets
They must be permitted into the restaurant with their owner. Also, guide dogs are hard at work and should not be touched or played with, provide them with space and time for order or any help.
Some restaurants take pride in service that is nearly visible, whisking away plates and refilling water glasses with stealth. But, this can be problematic for guests with a visual disability. Servers should verbally communicate what they’re doing
If your restaurant doesn’t have an accessible menu then train your staff to assist the customer. Train your servers to start by asking “Are you in the mood for having anything specific? Is there anything you particularly dislike? Have your staff well trained in reading the menu items.