There is no shortage of regulations detailing how restaurants and hotels are to provide for guests with disabilities or special needs. Yes, these regulations make it technically possible for people with disabilities to visit businesses. However, they are a far cry from truly making guests with special needs feel welcome. Since one in four Americans has a physical or mental disability, restaurants and hotels that go above and beyond to welcome them have a competitive advantage.
Here are a few suggestions to make your hotel or restaurant a stress-free destination for anyone:
Make them Feel Welcome
While many restaurants are housed in commercial spaces already ADA compliant, there is plenty of opportunity for restaurants to remove even more barriers. Make sure staff keeps an eye out for those needing assistance with the door or a to-go order brought to their car. For counter-service restaurants without a host or hotels without valet, consider installing automatic handicap door buttons.
Rethink Your Seating
Most restaurants already have ample space between tables for guests with physical disabilities. However, many miss an opportunity to offer spaces that accommodate guests with mental disabilities. Individuals with neurodivergence are often overwhelmed by the noise and bustle of restaurants. If possible, have a table or two situated away from areas with high traffic or loud music. Consider offering moveable partitions to provide a less overstimulating experience.
Make Menus Inclusive
Many food allergies and dietary restrictions need little explanation these days. Most can be discreetly acknowledged with simple icons on menus and signage. Restaurants can also focus on procuring ingredients free of unnecessary allergen contaminations. They can also consider making menus accessible to the visually impaired, with large print or even braille versions.
Take the Stress Out of Restrooms
Guests in wheelchairs are not the only ones with handicaps in public restrooms. Family restrooms are great options for dependents who need a caregiver’s help. Before investing in automatic flush functions or noisy hand dryers, pause and consider the discomfort it may cause many neurodiverse diners.
Hire Managers Who Make Guests a Priority
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