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Menus campaign for blind

PUBLISHED: 09:10 25 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 03 July 2010

A YOUNG blind woman is campaigning for pubs, cafes and restaurants to provide a better service for visually impaired people.

Siobhan Meade is frustrated by the lack of Braille or large print menus at many eating places in Great Yarmouth.

A YOUNG blind woman is campaigning for pubs, cafes and restaurants to provide a better service for visually impaired people.

Siobhan Meade is frustrated by the lack of Braille or large print menus at many eating places in Great Yarmouth.

The 26 year old, who has been blind since birth, frequently has to rely on friends or relatives to tell her what choices are available when dining out.

She said: “I'm an independent person and feel that having to rely on the restaurant staff or a sighted friend or relative quite belittling and patronising.

“I believe we should have an equal right to have an accessible menu in our given format.

“The main problems I've faced in the past are a feeling of being disempowered and not having the same rights as other customers.

“I've had to rely on other people informing me on what's on the main menu or the special boards.

“A sense of pressure to decide quickly sometimes results in a rushed choice of food, because there maybe a queue or isn't the time to make a decision.”

During a survey last week Siobhan found that three of the five restaurants she visited did not have Braille or large print menus.

Both the Troll Cart pub and Regent Road Macdonald's had full menus in Braille, but Greggs, Starbucks and Palmer's restaurant do not currently provide them.

However, Palmers store director Stuart McGee has pledged to meet with Siobhan again to arrange to look at how the restaurant can provide a better service for visually impaired people.

He said: “We pride ourselves on our service and are always willing to talk to customers about what is on the menu.

“This is not an issue that has been raised in the 22 years I have been here, but it is something I would like to address.”

Greggs assistant manager Lee Bleach said: “We don't have menus on the table as it changes so often, the standard items are on our display board. I am not aware of any customers raising this with us previously.”

Siobhan works with organisations including Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, Comeunity neighbourhood management programme and the Great Yarmouth VIP User Group.

Also a volunteer with a Yarmouth based community radio station Siobhan is hoping for a career in the media.

Now living in Gorleston, she had to leave her Great Yarmouth home three years ago after anti social behaviour attacks traumatised her guide dog Liza.

Siobhan said: “I found the survey extremely beneficial and hopefully other visually impaired residents of Great Yarmouth and surrounding areas will gain something from it.

“It is encouraging that some businesses were willing to be prepared to make a difference and work along side me to collate and design a menu.”

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