Edinburgh restaurant, The Huxley, has launched an audio menu for blind and partially sighted customers in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

The idea for the audio menu was initiated by employee, Kirsty Cameron, who, whilst volunteering with RNIB, learned that dining out can often be an intimidating experience for those with sight loss.

Working in the hospitality industry, Kirsty actioned change with the backing of Signature Pubs (owner of The Huxley) and RNIB to create the new menu service.

To launch the new audio menu, ten diners with sight loss were invited to lunch at The Huxley in Edinburgh’s West End with Daniel Meikle from RNIB and Kirsty.

Guests were offered the option of hearing the menu on an iPad or having it sent to their smartphones, which can read it back to them using speech software.

RNIB Volunteer Facilitator, Daniel Meikle who has a sight loss condition welcomes the move: “People who have sight loss enjoy eating out with family and friends, just like everybody else does,” he said.

“But too often we’re simply not able to make out what choices are on the menu. It can be embarrassing to have to rely on somebody else to read it out to you.

“Some restaurants like to present their menus in fancy, stylish scripts or in small font-sizes. In other cases, the contrast between the lettering and the background colour can be very poor.

“It’s great to be able to just come in and know you can make your choice of meal in your own time without having to rely on a companion to read it out or repeat it to you.”

Mike Lewis, General Manager of The Huxley said: “We’re launching this new initiative to help make dining out a great experience for everyone.

“When Kirsty brought this to our attention, we knew we could do something to make a difference and it’s been fantastic to work in partnership with Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland to make it happen.”

Signature Pubs,  who own The Huxley and 24 other venues across Scotland, are planning to introduce the audio menu service to their outlets and are also arranging a ‘Dine in the Dark’ event with RNIB later in the year.

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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