Going to a restaurant and reading a menu is something many people take for granted. But if you are blind or visually impaired that is sometimes not so easy.
Sam Noonan, of Dapto, wants to change all that. She has started the New Year with a new business called DealInDots to transcribe printed text into braille.
Noonan already has a local restaurant owner wanting her to help them produce menus that can be read in braille. She is getting requests to transcribe everything from recipe books to business cards and personal cards for many occasions.
“People can email me a menu of what they want transcribed. I have a braille display which is like a little screen reader that I connect to the computer that allows me to read what it is. Then I braille it with a big clunky machine. I am hoping to eventually be able to streamline it and just use a computer with a little braille display,” Noonan said.
Noonan formerly worked as a transcriber and proofreader for Vision Australia but left in late 2017 because commuting to an office was difficult. Noonan’s aim is to start small but she expects to attract clients throughout Australia. As the business grows she hopes to provide employment to other visually impaired people. Working from home suits her because she has two young grand-daughters she looks after.
Noonan said the NDIS gives people more choice about who they go to for such a service and thinks that will be a good thing for her business. As far as she knows its the only one of its type in the region. She thinks there will be a demand because being able to read something like a menu in a restaurant was such a great experience for her.
“The first time I saw a braille menu was about 20 years ago in Burwood in a little Italian cafe. It was just awesome because I could read the menu to everyone else at the table. So we did that,” she said.
Noonan thinks more eateries will do it if they find out it can be done locally. Her motivation for starting the business is to help make a difference for others who are visually impaired.
“I believe everyone has a right to accessible information. Pretty much anything can be put into braille,” she said.
Noonan has already been asked to transcribe books parents have bought their children for a birthday or Christmas.
DealInDots Braille is developing a website and Facebook page but in the meantime she can be contacted at 0435 317322