The Florida School for Deaf and Blind is in St. Augustine, so if its students decided to visit some of the local restaurants, they found they would have a difficult time finding a braille or large print menu.
Bailey Smith’s vision is impaired and she knows the challenges.
“It takes double, if not triple the time for me to read a menu with a small magnifier,” Smith said. “One of my biggest challenges is finding a restroom.”
It is a world that’s dark 24/7. Ann Thompson, whose husband Sam is blind by a congenital defect at birth.
“There are several corporate restaurants that have braille menus, a lot of the smaller ones don’t,” Sam said.
The Thompson family runs DOTZ ( Direct Occupational Training Zone) which trains the blind or visually impaired for jobs. They say it is time for local restaurants to step up and make a simple addition to their menus; either make them in braille and or in large print.
“It gives an individual who is blind or visually impaired, first of all, the ability to make his or her own decision in a restaurant, secondly it gives the feeling of independence,” Thompson said.
A group of students from Flagler College see the need and recently they surveyed area restaurants.
“Out of all of them surveyed, not one of them had a braille or large print menu,” said Cheyenne Goodale.
Goodale is among a group of students from Flagler College who are part of ENACTUS, which is leading the effort to change the menus at the local restaurants. Goodale is the team leader.
“Right now we’ve got 13 restaurants committed,” she said.
She said they’re committed to buying kits that include braille and large print menus.
“We want to try to get almost every independent restaurant in St. Augustine to at least commit,” she said.
The kits cost $50 and the money it generates will be used to purchase a braille embosser machine which DOTZ will use to meet the needs of the foreseeable future.