Restaurateurs are missing out on a significant group of potential customers who like to dine out. There are two groups that are generally not made welcome either through the design of the establishment or poor customer service. Not that this is deliberate – they just don’t figure in their thinking. Acoustics are an issue for people who can’t hear with high levels of background noise – and it isn’t just older people. Wheelchair users are also disadvantaged by steps, hi-top tables and stools, and multi-level areas. In an interesting article from the Eater website, people with disability discuss their issues and much of it focuses on feeling comfortable and welcomed by staff. Physical accessibility, where it exists, is not the be all and end all of their eating experience.
Just one step can mean the restaurant misses out. It’s not just the one diner – it’s also the whole party or family group. Too often accessibility is an afterthought in the design process when someone thinks about meeting the obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act.