Stellarton restaurant gives partially blind diners greater independence

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Partially blind diners in a Nova Scotia restaurant no longer need to ask sighted people for help ordering from the menu.

The menu at Jungle Jim’s Eatery in Stellarton now includes braille and a QR code that takes diners to an audio version of the menu on YouTube.

It’s all thanks to Jody Holley, the restaurant waitress and mother of 13-year-old Luke Reddick, who is partly blind.

Holley said her son was not the only partially blind person to eat out.

“It was very important for me to welcome all the customers who came to the restaurant to give them that sense of independence when they came to eat with us,” said Holley.

“The feeling of equality”

She said it could be “disheartening” for blind or partially blind customers not to have an accessible menu. Holley said that as a mother she wanted them to have “the feeling of equality they deserve”.

Holley wanted to make sure her son had the same restaurant experience as everyone else. (Karen Holley)

Reddick said when he visited the restaurant before he had to ask his mother for help. It affected his independence, he said.

Holley said she expects her son to go to college in a few years and that he was uncomfortable with having to ask waiters to read her the menu.

People go out to eat because it’s an enjoyable experience, said Holley, and the menus in Braille and QR codes help make it enjoyable for everyone.

Holley worked with Nicole MacDonald, one of Reddick’s teachers, to create the new menus.

Need more than braille

MacDonald said she saw this as a “really interesting project” to do in her spare time, as she was already teaching students how to stand up for themselves and their communities.

She said she had a nephew with a learning disability who couldn’t read print and an aging father who always forgot his glasses when he went to restaurants. So she realized that more than braille was needed.

“It became clear that it would be even more accessible if there were QR codes and there was an auditory component for the menu,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said other restaurants who want to make their menus more accessible should consider having a basic, plain-text online menu so people can access it with their phone’s screen reader.

Reddick said his mother read him a few menu items that she thought he would like, but now has access to the full menu.

“I like to eat different foods every time now,” Reddick said. “I’ll probably try some of the new sandwiches and the like.


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