David Friedman is a “Foodie”. He publishes accessibility ratings and reviews of food venues on his website. He recently published an article on Abilities.com entitled “An Open Letter to Restaurateurs and Restaurant Staff,” presenting several useful strategies that restaurants can use to help customers with disabilities feel welcome and enjoy their dining experiences.
Friedman first addresses concerns about the physical space in restaurants. Many restaurants lack ramps, or have ramp substitutes with slopes that are far too steep to traverse easily with a wheelchair. Ramps should ideally comply with local legislation for accessibility. Pathways within restaurants should be wide enough so that an individual using a wheelchair can pass easily; this will prevent needing to move furniture or interrupt other diners’ meals. Every restaurant should include tables that can accommodate wheelchairs—not too high and not too low. But importantly, no matter how accessible the dining room is, if a restaurant does not have accessible bathrooms, then it isn’t truly accessible.
Customer service staff should know what to do when someone with a disability comes into their establishment. If a server is unsure or worried about giving too much assistance or not enough, the easiest thing he or she can do is to ask the customer “Is there any way I can help you?” Every customer should be treated with dignity at all times, and customers who have a great dining experience will recommend the establishment to their friends.