The Good Food Talks app allows the UK’s nearly 2 million visually impaired people to access restaurant menus independently, quickly and easily in restaurants or at home.
Carluccio’s, Pret A Manger and a handful of independent London pubs, hotels and restaurants have been quick to sign up.
Using location-tracking technology, the app works by displaying the users’ nearest dining outlets that have signed up to the scheme. Users can then choose to access the menu in whichever format is most convenient to their needs.
The app has been optimised for accessibility functions on all smartphones currently on the market. These functions include text-to-speech software (VoiceOver on the iPhone), a colour inversion option, and different ways to control the size of the print and the brightness of the screen. The app also includes an option to view menus in the innovative OpenDyslexic font, which enables dyslexic customers (an estimated 10% of the population) to read more quickly and easily.
70% of the 2 million visually impaired people in the UK use a smart phone, and that number is growing all the time.
Founder Matt Wadsworth, who is registered blind, developed the Good Food Talks app after finding that most visually impaired people shared his frustration at needing to have menus read out loud to them by dining companions and restaurant staff. Whilst some restaurants offer Braille menus, this is not a complete solution since only 1% of people in this category in the UK can actually read Braille.
Matt explains how it works: “Imagine a group of four people in a restaurant. One is blind; one can still basically see but has some trouble reading; one forgot her reading glasses; and one has no trouble reading the menu. That fourth person, who would normally have to read the menu to the other three, simply opens the menu and browses. The other three get out their phones, go to goodfoodtalks.com, and click “find restaurants near me”. With location tracking enabled on their phones, the restaurant will appear at the top of the list. Once they’ve clicked on that, they’ll be able to read the menu in whatever way suits them best. The blind person uses the VoiceOver function, which reads text out loud; the person with some degeneration uses the Invert Colours function, which changes the print from black on white to the more readable white on black; and the one who forgot her reading glasses simply uses the Zoom function to make the print bigger, with the backlit screen giving her all the light she needs. Everyone at the table is equal and autonomous, making dining out more dignified, more sociable, and more fun.”
John Dyson, Food and Technical Expert at the British Hospitality Association said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Good Food Talks, as the national trade Association for the hospitality industry we actively support opportunities for disabled people to access hotels and restaurants and welcome the innovative use of technology in assisting visually impaired customers read menus.”