Each month I will be responding to a question; chosen from a pool of some of
the most commonly asked ones that I have been asked over the years and
continue to be asked.
This month, I’d like to answer the following question:
How can restaurants be made more accessible to blind patrons?
By Donna J. Jodhan
This may not be as difficult as you may think. When it comes to
accessibility, it all has to do with ensuring that blind patrons are able to
access such things as:
Your establishment from outside.
Easy access to tables with enough room for guide dogs if required.
Staff should be trained to provide proper guiding techniques to blind
That menus can be easily accessed and here is where there are several
schools of thought. I’ll give you a few suggestions to get you started.
Firstly, more restaurants are making their menus available online so it is
vitally important to ensure that these menus can be easily access by blind
patrons with screen reading and print enlarging software. These are two
pieces of software that blind persons use in order to read. You need to
ensure that picture, graphic, and icon representations have full textual
equivalents. In addition, that alt text tags are provided for all images
and that there are equivalent keyboard alternatives for all mouse pointer
Secondly, many blind persons often ask restaurant staff to read them the
menu upon being seated at their table. Staff need to be trained in this
rudiment as well as to be able to aptly describe what is on the menu and
help the blind patron to navigate the place settings on the table.
Thirdly, Restaurant staff need to be trained to render assistance to
washrooms if asked by the blind patron.
Of course, there are always other variables for you to consider but I think
that this is a good start.