Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. This article will outline some of the features that can make restaurants accessible. Restaurant accessibility allows diners of all abilities to share good food and good company.
Improving Restaurant Accessibility
Restaurants show their welcome for diners using assistive devices, like wheelchairs and scooters, when they have accessible structural features. For instance, some of the accessible structural features that restaurants might have are:
- Accessible Parking
- Ramped or level entrances
- Automatic doors and wide doorways
- Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
- Accessible public washrooms
- Wide aisles and paths of travel
- Visual fire alarms
- Line areas and service counters that accommodate customers using mobility devices
Furthermore, restaurants where patrons order and receive their food at counters may have seats near counter or line areas. This seating benefits patrons with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand while being served or waiting in line. Staff may need to direct patrons to this seating and alert them when it is their turn to be served.
Sit-down restaurants can welcome diners using wheelchairs or scooters by creating wide aisles between tables and installing some tables with knee and toe clearance. Accessible seating should be in areas that diners using these devices can reach, rather than up or down a few stairs. Moreover, restaurants should install good lighting, which is helpful for diners with visual impairments, as well as diners who sign or speechread. Furthermore, sound-dampeners will create a quieter environment for diners disturbed by background noise, and for diners who are blind and rely on their hearing to pick up social cues. Additionally, closed captioning on any dining-room TVs make entertainment more enjoyable for diners who are deaf, hard of hearing, or learning English.
Moreover, signage is also important. Signs should:
- Include detailed information for residents with hearing disabilities
- Use clear language or pictures for residents with intellectual disabilities
- Be at eye level for residents at wheelchair and standing heights
- Have large print and good colour contrast for residents with visual impairments
- Include Braille for residents who are blind
Finally, restaurants should provide multiple contact methods for diners to get in touch with them, including:
- Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
- Email addresses
- Accessible online ways to order meals, and contact forms on websites
Our next article will cover another element of restaurant accessibility: how restaurants can provide information that all diners can access.