Cheshire-based disability access consultancy Direct Access have made it their mission to ensure that Braille and Large Print accessible menus are available at as many pubs, cafes, and restaurants as possible within their hometown of Nantwich.
The East Cheshire town boasts a whopping 300 restaurants within just 25 square miles and contains a total of 68 eateries that the firm has targeted as part of their Accessible Menu campaign.
The goal of the campaign is to increase accessibility of dining establishments for visually impaired and elderly locals, as well as attract other disabled tourists to the town’s well-established culinary scene.
The campaign is led by Direct Access founder Steven Mifsud MBE and Nantwich Town Disability FC captain Craig Acton, with the latter hand-delivering the accessible menus to participating restaurants.
The pair drew inspiration to create Accessible Menus after noticing a lack of accessible menus in their town’s local restaurants, with Craig’s visual impairment resulting in the requirement for venue staff to read menus out to him. This made sit-down dining in the town an “uncomfortable and inaccessible” experience.
Direct Access is producing these bespoke menus in-house and expects the changes to existing restaurant menus will include increased font sizes, colour contrast, simplification of information, and improved formatting. Braille menus will also be provided.
Direct Access believes that their accessible menus will benefit visually impaired, elderly, and autistic communities, as the accessible formats offer a much simpler, less hectic viewing experience, which can also aid both the elderly and the very young population. The Braille menus will also accommodate those who have limited or no vision at all.
Several pubs and restaurants have already signed up to the scheme, including Nantwich Book Shop and Coffee Lounge, the Wilbraham Arms, Pepper Street Fryer, Charlie + Co, the Hive, and 34 Pepper Street, each of which will be piloting accessible menus with their customers.
The accompanying social media campaign #MenuAccess #BecomeInclusive will detail information being shared about each establishment and allow participating restaurants to showcase themselves with the campaign placard (pictured).
Denise Lawson, owner of the Nantwich Book Shop and Coffee Lounge is excited to be part of the campaign, saying “As a business owner who provides food and drinks, we have always tried to assist people who need additional help with ordering. When the opportunity came for us to be more accessible, we were keen and excited to be a part of the new initiative. We look forward to being able to provide large print and braille menus to our customers and being a part of this fantastic venture”.
Direct Access founder and Nantwich based Steven Mifsud MBE believes that most establishments serving sit-down food are missing out on clientele, and that providing menus in alternative formats will open restaurants up to marginalised communities.
“If a restaurant doesn’t provide menus in accessible formats, they risk losing the interest of not only visually impaired communities, but elderly people, young people, as well as physically and cognitively disabled people. These communities want to dine out, but nobody wants to face the social embarrassment of requiring menus read aloud to them, it’s dehumanising. Convenience is everything in the food industry. We believe that these menus can benefit everybody, including restaurant and pub owners themselves. There is also a huge social and financial benefit to becoming accessible, not only will disabled people attend their establishments but they will also bring family and friends along with them. Let’s not also forget that the power of social media, disabled people can bring some positive PR and exposure if they get a good service. It’s a win for everyone. If this campaign is successful and is already showing to be, we will go national and then global”.
It is currently estimated that there are currently over 2 million individuals in the UK who live with vision loss, with this number continuously increasing due to the ageing population.