Vision Day: hotel and catering industry could do more to welcome visually impaired
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    Vision Day: hotel and catering industry could do more to welcome visually impaired

    © Belga
    Vision Day: raising awareness of accommodating the blind in the hotel and catering industry.
    © Belga

    Although initiatives have sprung up here and there, facilities in place for the blind and partially sighted have remained incremental. Braille or large-character menus, offered free to restaurants by the third sector organisation La Lumière, illustrate the lack of interest of restaurant owners in this regard.

    Yet, those who have profited from such initiatives are unanimous: integration has been genuinely successful.

    That said, awareness raising of the mobility problems for individuals with reduced mobility (including poor sightedness) are tending to increase, say the HoReCa Federation of Wallonia, which is addressing the point for the Belga press agency on Vision Day.

    The brochure “Eating when blind” developed by the third sector organisation La Lumière was sent to nearly 1,700 restaurant owners.

    “Only a dozen of them responded positively to this letter, despite our proposal to transcribe their menu for free into Braille,” Mireille Roks of the Federation indicated.

    Training, which is also free, is moreover, offered to restaurant to help them better welcome this type of customer.

    Catherine Vincent, Administrative Secretary of HoReCa Federation of Wallonia regrets that “Generally, current initiatives are taken by managers aware of the problem of blindness.”

    Vinent goes on, “The example of Braille menus is probably the easiest to implement, but this remains highly marginal.”

    However, the Walloon Federation stresses that within the hotel sector, the awareness of the problems faced by those lacking mobility is tending to increase.

    It says, “It is not uncommon for hoteliers to wish to equip and adapt rooms for these individuals, generally on the ground floor.”

    The Federation stresses “For accommodation on the first floor and above, even if new lifts are generally equipped with numbering in figures and Braille, other facilities are necessary, especially concerning access ways and emergency exits.”

    Another battle horse to protect the sight-deficient is to raise awareness of access to animals in restaurants. In 2015, the Federal agency for the Safety of the Food Chain clarified its directive.

    It states that domestic animals could not come not into premises where food items were prepared, handled or stored, except for trained guide dogs accompanying individuals for mobility purposes, who have a visual or motor handicap.

    This solely applies in premises where food items are sold.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times