What do you think of when you read food and accessibility? Ravioli? Ramps? Burgers? Bathrooms? Steaks? Steps?
Maybe some of you recently saw the latest list of the 100 best restaurants in St. Louis from restaurant critic Ian Froeb at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. How many of us thought about accessibility when perusing the list for our next best meal ever?
Of course the list talked about the chef, the cuisine and the cost. But does a restaurant critic know about accessibility? Is it a reasonable expectation that a restaurant critic understand what an accessible dining experience requires? More importantly, does the restaurant owner want to make the facility accessible to all members of the dining public?
Which comes first: the accessible restaurant or people with disabilities looking for the best new restaurants in St. Louis? I was browsing Explore St. Louis, which offers dining and nightlife options. As you search restaurants, there is an option for “handicap accessible.” The website does not appear to give any detailed information about the accessible accommodation (e.g., menus in large print, accessible parking or accessible bathrooms) — it just states “handicap accessible,” whatever that means.
May I suggest that Explore St. Louis discontinue the use of “handicap” as it is not widely accepted and just go with accessible? Further, may I suggest that the site details to what specifically “accessible” refers?
Dining with family, friends and the community is a universal experience that brings people together. I am sure the restaurants that are accessible want any potential customer to know that, too. As detailed in the list, St. Louis has many delicious restaurants to enjoy. Why not make more room at the table and include people with disabilities?
Mary Thompson is the Accessibility Specialist at Paraquad. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo credit: Incredible Accessible