You put your heart and soul into creating an array of fabulous dishes, assemble them and then sweat over how best to describe them on your menu. You post that on your website, on Instagram, on a blackboard and print it for your customers. But how often do you stop to think about the dining experience of all your potential customers who are visually impaired? Just in case you hadn’t realised, that’s 2 million people. Yes, that’s right two million.
Fed up with having to rely on his dining companions to read out the menus, blind entrepreneur Matt Wadsworth took decisive action. In 2013 he launched an app which has revolutionised eating out for the visually impaired.
Now, five years on and building on the success of Good Food Talks with a number of UK’s best-known high street names, the technology is accessible and affordable for even the smallest independent restaurant.
Matt realised that while some restaurants were trying to facilitate visually impaired customers by providing Braille menus, only 1% of people in this category actually read Braille.
The app allows the UK’s nearly 2 million visually impaired people to access menus independently, quickly and easily in restaurants or at home. Using location-tracking technology, it works by displaying the users’ nearest dining outlets that have signed up to the scheme. Users can then choose to access the menu in whichever format is most convenient to their needs, whether that be spoken or large print.
The app has been optimised for accessibility functions on all smartphones currently on the market. These functions include text-to-speech software (VoiceOver on the iPhone), a colour inversion
option, and different ways to control the size of the print and the brightness of the screen. The app also includes an option to view menus in the innovative OpenDyslexic font, which enables dyslexic
customers (an estimated 10% of the population) to read more quickly and easily, and the native iPhone app includes a black-on-yellow viewing option that is especially popular among people with macular degeneration.
Good Food Talks currently has access to over 120,000 users and their menus are now available across the UK in restaurant chains such as Nando’s, Pret a Manger, Côte Brasserie, Strada, Carluccio’s, TGI Friday’s, and Café Rouge, as well as a few forward-thinking independent restaurants. Now, for just £10 a month, restaurants with just one or two wise can upload their menus to the system.
One happy customer is Café Rouge whose Head of Brand, Victoria Murray, says: “We are committed to accessibility for all guests and want everybody to enjoy their dining experience at Cafe Rouge. Good Food Talks have a comprehensive solution that allows us to include anyone who uses a smartphone to help them read. We control the content, and the user decides how they want to see or hear or read the information.”
Matt adds: “This expansion of the platform will give thousands of independent restaurants the chance to showcase their food offering to a whole new customer base. It also opens the door for millions of visually impaired diners to expand their choice of dining destination and enjoy the full eating out experience.”
Good Food Talks strikes us as a very tasty win-win – opening the door to 2 million new customers and supporting the community.
If you’re interested in making your menu available to a whole new audience, you can contact Matt [email protected]