Making your restaurant comfortable for your guests is priority number one for restaurant owners. When you’re designing your restaurant, don’t forget about what you can do to make it more accessible.
Disabled guests and the folks who dine with them will greatly appreciate the attention to detail you’ve put in to ensure an enjoyable dining experience for those with disabilities.
While the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a set of laws detailing the minimum rules for accessibility in restaurants, this list of 10 things you can do for disabled people in your restaurant takes it a step farther. You show that you have thought about additional ways to make all your guests feel at home.
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
1. Post Signs In Braille
Braille is a system of raised dots used by the vision impaired to read with touch. Post braille signs anywhere you think it might be helpful. For example, on bathroom signs, at the pickup window and at disabled-accessible tables.
2. Make Aisles Wider
The ADA requires 30 inches of clearance on either side of an aisle for wheelchair access. Wide aisles also make it more comfortable for others with mobility disabilities such as those using walkers and canes.
Wider aisles ensure that other guests will not be bumped into and disturbed. And disabled guests will not have to ask other diners to move their chairs so they can pass by.
3. Offer To Help
Your staff should be prepared to offer any additional assistance required by disabled patrons, such as arranging seating, providing additional table service, holding open doors, etc. Making sure that all your guests feel welcome and well serviced is important.
Read More: 10 Things Your Host Should Do Everyday
4. Provide Employee Training
Your employees should receive awareness training about disabilities and how to facilitate people with disabilities. Help your employees understand several types of disabilities and how they can affect specific tasks in the restaurant.
Employees need to be aware of how they can help. For example, if a person with a vision disability needs to have someone read the menu. Servers should stay close to the table to help with additional customer requests.
5. Be Patient
When you are assisting a disabled person, do not be in a hurry. Train your staff to wait with patience for instructions from the guest. It may not be obvious to staff if a guest is having difficulty.
For example, cognitive or hearing disabilities may require servers to repeat themselves. The key is to not be rude or rush the guest despite the difficulty.
6. Greet Them Like All Customers
When a disabled person visits your restaurant, greet them like you would greet any customer. Do not make them feel like they stand out. Simply maintain awareness in case they require assistance.
Some employees might be inclined to ignore disabled guests if they aren’t sure what to do or how to act. This is why staff training is important ahead of time.
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
7. Build Accessible Bathrooms
To accommodate disabled people and the elderly separate bathrooms help provide additional privacy and space. Give them a pleasant experience by providing enough space to navigate comfortably with room for wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
The ADA has minimum guidelines which include installation of handrails to facilitate balance while maneuvering and setting sinks low enough to be accessed.
8. Don’t Judge Them
Some people’s disabilities can make servers who are unfamiliar with the disabled uncomfortable. Motor tics, neuromuscular disorders, cognitive disabilities and others are sometimes judged harshly by people who don’t recognize the disability.
Make sure your staff receives sensitivity training and is able to identify and provide adequate service to all guests despite an uncommon disability.
9. Give Them Time To Settle
Do not be in a hurry. Disabled people may need more time to settle in before they are ready to start ordering. It’s important not to rush. They may perceive it as rude or that you’re trying to get them out quickly.
In particular, those with mobility issues might expend a lot of physical energy moving from their car to being seated in the restaurant. Provide them with sufficient time to settle in and get comfortable before returning to assist with their order.
10. Give Extra Time At Check Out
Likewise, when they have finished their meal, be considerate of the time it will take them to get going. Be aware that they may require additional assistance exiting the restaurant as well. Patience is key, as is well-timed assistance if required.
Making your restaurant accessible and inviting to disabled diners is an important goal. It can be achieved by making small but important changes to your restaurant to address some of the challenges faced by disabled patrons.
Braille signs, wide aisles and accessible bathrooms can help disabled patrons feel more self sufficient. Additional staff training in understanding the needs of people with different types of disabilities will go a long way to providing better service.
Patience is key, as well as an awareness of their needs. Take service slowly and let your disabled guests dictate the pace of service. Provide assistance when required.
This guide to 10 things you can do for disabled people in your restaurant is part of the free resources provided by Rezku. Find more helpful articles in our library home.
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