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Access for Restaurants

“Very few people go to restaurants to eat alone”, says Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) Professional, Kristen Habermehl. Restaurants are meeting places for people of diverse abilities and backgrounds, and everyone deserves to share a meal with their family or enjoy a drink with friends. This is why Kristen suggests that accessible restaurants should be a top priority!

Many restaurants present barriers to a large demographic of patrons, such as entry doors that are heavy or unpowered, menus without Braille or tactile components, or inaccessible washrooms. “The most common barrier is usually the washroom”, Kristen says. Accessible washrooms allow patrons to wash their hands, linger during dinner, and have the option to drink more wine and other beverages! When restaurant guests can engage with others, stay late, and drink plenty, both patrons and business owners win. 

Another all-too-common restaurant barrier is staff who do not know how to serve people with disabilities in a respectful and helpful way. “My hope is that every restaurant owner and manager would invest a bit of time into ensuring that their staff are trained to interact with people of any and all abilities”, says Kristen. Consider the skills and experience that your restaurant staff have regarding accessibility. Do they know how to approach someone who has an accompanying service animal? Can they confidentially greet a guest in a wheeled mobility device? Pursuing staff training, through an accessibility professional like Kristen, is an easy way to bring your team up to date on the newest information.

An accessible restaurant is a welcoming environment to people of all abilities! It allows everyone to feel included and engage with those around them. “Your favourite places to eat are the places that are effortless to enjoy”, Kristen says. If you are a restaurant owner, consider booking a building assessment or education session with Atlantic Accessibility to begin welcoming more guests to your establishment!