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Local restaurants foster accessibility with Braille and large print menus

by Betul Duru - Copy Editor
Tue, Nov 12th 2019 09:05 pm
 The Brockport Lions Club introduced the idea of large print and Braille menus for the visually impaired to local restaurants. Shops like 58 Main BBQ & Brew and Jimmy Z's Plates and Shakes now offer these menus in an effort to make their restaurants more accessible.
The Brockport Lions Club introduced the idea of large print and Braille menus for the visually impaired to local restaurants. Shops like 58 Main BBQ & Brew and Jimmy Z's Plates and Shakes now offer these menus in an effort to make their restaurants more accessible.
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For the visually impaired, it can be difficult to read traditional restaurant menus. Residents in the Brockport area can now utilize Braille menus and large print menus at select locations. 

The Brockport Lions Club introduced the idea of translating menus into Braille for the visually impaired. Not long after, its project had picked up speed and spread throughout Brockport. Currently, there are 11 restaurants in the area that have either Braille menus or large print menus for the customers that need them.

According to Lion Tamer Greg Lund, the project began when the Brockport Lions Club President Normand Fluet brought it up at the club’s meeting in October of 2018 and was wondering if this would help the community in any way. 

The Lions Club talked to four restaurants first and all responded positively, according to Lund. The Lions Club started the process of transcribing the menus in 2018 with Spencerport Lions Braille Services, who transcribed all of the menus for the club. 

After the Lions Club made the menus, it wanted to spread the word and decided to make a sticker that indicated there were Braille and large print menus inside each restaurant. 

“[We thought] how would anyone know, so why don’t we put a sticker telling that that option is available,” Lund said. “[The visually impaired] come to restaurants with other people, so they would know to ask for the menu.”

According to Lund, the Brockport Lions Club wouldn’t be able to implement this option in other areas, but it would be happy to help out any of the other lions clubs with the idea. 

Bringing Braille and large print menus to Brockport Auxiliary Services Corporation (BASC) might be its next project and the club will talk about this during the next club meeting. According to Lund, the idea for the Braille and large print menu project stemmed from a student at The College of Brockport and grew from there.

Although BASC works with the Student Accessibility Services to meet the needs of students, it does not have any accessible options in any of the dining halls.

“We have not received requests for Braille menus in the past and would need to explore this further to determine feasibility given the number of menu items that we serve across campus and that our menus change daily and by meal period,” Assistant Executive Director of BASC Anna Hintz said. “Our team members currently offer assistance to those with visual impairments to communicate the daily offerings.”

58 Main BBQ & Brew was one of the first four restaurants that accepted the Brockport Lions Clubs offer of Braille and large print menus. Owner Mark Marcello believed this would benefit the community as a whole and bring in customers. 

“The [Brockport] Lions Club came up to us and they wanted to do good things in the community,” Marcello said. “And we said of course we would.”

Marcello wants his customers’ experience to be as enjoyable and accommodating as possible and said that it cannot hurt to try out something different. 

At this time, 58 Main does not have a sticker on the door indicating it has accessible  menus, but Marcello is working with the Brockport Lions Club to get one as soon as possible.

According to Marcello, the restaurant is trying to spread the word through social media. Marcello believes once the word gets around there will be an influx of customers. He thinks customers that are visually impaired might have shied away from the restaurant and this might interest them into coming to the restaurant. 

“[Braille and large print menus] might appeal to people,” Marcello said. 

In the future, Braille and large print menus may be more widespread in the Brockport community, making it a more accessible place for those who need them.

 

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