I was out with my family recently at a well-known fast-food chain drive through, waiting to order our lunch. It struck me that this very easy, convenient and fast way of ordering food for us would be an impossibility for a Deaf person or family.
Let me explain…We were able to order our food verbally to the faceless speaking post and wait to check our order by listening to the member of staff repeating our order back to us. Then, we drive to the next window to pay and then finally collect our food to then eat it. A perfectly easy way to have a takeaway you would agree.
There lies the irony… for a person who is Deaf and potentially lipreads and may or may not sign, this type of drive through takeaway is out of the question. How can that Deaf person hear the faceless voice coming through the speaking post or if they choose to use their voice to place their order (some Deaf British Sign Language users choose not to use their voice as Sign is their first language) they may struggle to hear the crackly voice that replies.
The whole experience, that to us, is a regular, easy, convenient, and familiar experience, becomes one of possible anxiety, embarrassment, and inconvenience to a Deaf person.
You might argue surely that Deaf individual would just go into the restaurant in question to order their takeaway face to face to avoid all the above. This is probably what would happen, (although during the latter part of lockdown, restaurants of said chain were closed and only drive through was first available)!
The question perhaps should be…Why should they? Shouldn’t they be able to access this service in the very same way as the rest of us?
This leads to my point…if corporate businesses were able to think ‘out of the box’, to ensure they are an accessible service to all their customers when these convenient options are made available to the general public, then small changes can make the world of difference.
In this instance, alternative options can be a possibility for perhaps, a relatively minor cost to allow full inclusivity and target a specific clientele. For example, providing a post next to the speaking post with a touch screen menu that can be used to order food, much like the touch screens available within the restaurants. Alternatively, a simple notice next to the speaking post that asks Deaf people to proceed to the next manned window to order their food face to face. Other options might be a laminated menu with tick boxes to indicate which food is required.
In that way, in our fast paced, busy lives, we can all enjoy the convenience of enjoying fast food together.
Small Change = Big Impact. It’s not rocket science is it? Deaf Lives matter too.
Study Sharpe helps organisations recognise the importance and benefit of embracing the Equality Act in their business operations.
For British Sign Language or Deaf Awareness courses please visit their website: https://www.studysharpe.co.uk/
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