Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined how restaurants can make menus and other information accessible. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible restaurant service in the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we look at how hosts and servers can find ways to make their service welcoming to diners who need accessible features that a restaurant does not have yet.
Accessible Restaurant Service in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Servers taking orders should understand how to communicate with diners in ways that take their disabilities into account. Moreover, they should know how to communicate remotely when taking orders or describing changes to their menus or services. Alternatively, they should know how to communicate in person when delivering orders to diners’ cars or houses.
When a restaurant does not have menus in the format a diner needs, servers should read the menu aloud. Servers should also be prepared to read menus aloud upon request. Diners will explain how they would like the menu read. For instance, one diner might like to know what the main headings are. Then, the diner can choose to find out more about certain sections. Another diner might first want to know the names of all the meal choices. Then, the diner might ask for descriptions of certain dishes. Other diners may want to read the whole menu and return to items they are most interested in.
Similarly, when restaurants have changed how they operate in response to the pandemic, not all customers may be aware of these changes. For instance, if a restaurant’s website is inaccessible, computer users with disabilities cannot read it. As a result, servers may need to communicate directly with diners to tell them about changes in:
- Contactless take-out procedures
- New or changed delivery options
- Their menus
- Hours of operation
Accessible restaurant service in the COVID-19 pandemic ensures that all diners have a pleasant experience. For many diners with disabilities, excellent service is as memorable as excellent food. Diners treated with dignity will want to come back for a second meal.