The Importance of Accessibility in Restaurants and the Hospitality Sector

For restaurants, creating a great menu and an equally great environment for guests are two of their top priorities. But creating a great environment for all guests, including those with disabilities, should be a basic goal for every restaurant. However, for those with disabilities, whether they’re physical, mental, or otherwise, restaurant accessibility may be lacking in some places.

Lack of accessibility can present a negative effect for patron and restaurant owners alike. From getting through a dining room to entering and using a restroom to reading a menu, simple tasks for some may be difficult for others. Restaurants that have a lack of accessibility can hinder a guest’s meal and overall experience as well as for those who accompany them.

To avoid these problems and make everyone’s experience at a restaurant equal and accessible, restaurant owners and staff can help to open up accessibility. Here are some ways in which this can be done.

Floor Layout Issues

For issues with an establishment’s layout, it’s important to make sure there is enough space for wheelchairs and other mobility aids to get through a dining room. Booths and high tables may present a challenge, so having plenty of tables where wheelchairs can sit in equal height is important.

If a restaurant has multiple levels, there should be an elevator that can help guests get up and down the floors. If an elevator isn’t an option, always make sure to have seating available for individuals with physical disabilities downstairs.

Entry Ways

Sometimes, getting in the restaurant can be an issue. Adding more accessibility options or altering current ones is important when providing access to disabled patrons. This can mean having flat entrances, ramps, elevators, automatic doors, and handicap parking. If someone who uses a wheelchair learns that your establishment isn’t access-friendly, not only will they move on but those who would be joining them would move along as well.

Sensory Problems

Accessibility can also come in the form of struggles with hearing or seeing. Having Braille menus for when blind guests or those hard of seeing can make a big difference in the overall experience for everyone.

Major chains like Starbucks have been targeted in lawsuits where individuals with visual disabilities have sued over company gift cards not having Braille on them. Claims like these can paint a company or restaurant or cafe in a bad light, causing a ripple effect of low sales and a negative reputation.

One way that those in the hospitality industry can avoid heavy fees and major claims is to invest in specified restaurant insurance, which can provide the fund needs not only for legal representation but to pay out settlements as a result of litigation.

Beyond printing braille menus, large-print menus can also be an option for those with partial vision. For fast-casual dining establishments, they can consider printing out small paper menus to offer up to guests with sight problems.

For guests with hearing issues, whether they’re deaf, hard of hearing, or have sensory problems with their hearing, such as pitch and volume, entering a place with too much noise can be a problem. Sound dampeners can be installed to cut down on the noise of a restaurant, controlling the noise levels in a dining room. And restaurant managers should always be on the lookout for potential hires who are able to use American Sign Language (ASL).

Accessible Bathrooms

Using the restroom can present another level of difficulty for those with physical or mental disability issues. Consider including an accessible bathroom in each bathroom and even a specialized bathroom solely meant for customers with disabilities. These should include grab bars on the back wall and the side(s), more space to turn, and a much wider door that will swing out instead of in, giving guests as much space as they need.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.

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