Top Tips for Cafés
We’d love lots of cafes to get involved in Disabled Access Day 2016 and with Caffè Nero already signed up to take part you’ll be in great company.
Take a look at our tips on how to make your café more accessible below that covers everything from good customer service to movement around your cafe:
Offer to carry food and drinks to the table.
Some people find it difficult to carry objects and it is a good idea to ask if they would like a hand. If the customer has a visual impairment, let them know where you have put their tray. Imagine there is a clock face on the tray and describe the position by saying ‘your coffee is at one o’clock’.
The staff get a full score as they were welcoming and helpful from the start. It was no big deal for them to carry my coffee across to the table, see if I wanted anything else, and juggle the furniture to help me sit where I wanted. - KMac review on Euan’s Guide
For some people, a cup and saucer can be challenging to hold and they may prefer a mug. Others may wish to use a straw. Having a range of options is a great way to make people feel welcome.
Help your staff become more confident by providing them with training to ensure that every customer has a great time when they visit you, there is still plenty of time to do this before Disabled Access Day!
Moveable tables are awesome.
Wheelchair users sometimes need a little more space to move around and if tables are fixed to the floor, they can become obstacles. Movable furniture allows more flexibility for everyone. There should be a clear and obvious pathway free from obstacles, for visually impaired customers and staff and to allow wheelchair users to easily move around the café.
The counter was low for everybody to use, the cafe was spacious where tables and chairs were spread out to avoid accidents. - alicefort94 review on Euan’s Guide
Customers can’t buy anything if they can’t get in the cafe!
Always offer assistance with opening the door and if you have portable ramp, make sure there is a sign to inform customers that a ramp is available. A simple wireless doorbell, at wheelchair height, provides an easy way for a disabled person to let you know they need assistance.
Permanent ramps and automatic doors make it easier for customers to wander into your café. They are a great feature that will attract clubs and people looking to host meetings to your café.
There is a ramp to the front door. The ramp is of a solid stone construction and is rather steep. Not horribly or impossibly steep, but a bit of an effort in a manual wheelchair and it could be a bit of a skid if you come down it in the rain. The front door is a bit heavy but there are always people who jump out of nowhere to help. - Squirrelpot review on Euan’s Guide
Install an accessible toilet.
An accessible toilet is a toilet with a wide step-free entrance that is equipped with grab rails and an alarm to attract attention in the event of an emergency. Small details like having lever taps and paper towels make a huge difference.
Never store anything, including highchairs and hoovers, in an accessible toilet because this reduces the amount of space available for the user.If you have a range of separate bins make sure they’re not blocking up space unnecessarily, keep them away from the entrance and consider whether they’re all needed. The key to an accessible toilet is...the bigger the better!
“The Elephant coffee has one unisex disabled toilet for customers. The door opens out into the café, making access easier. There is a large space within the toilet with transfer rails which can be moved out of the way, and grab rails. The toilet is taller than the basic, making it easier for transfers, whilst the sink is lower and accessible for someone in a wheelchair. There is an alarm for assistance if required in the toilet cubicle.” beckie review on Euan’s Guide
Printing a large print version of your menu and keeping it to hand, is an easy way to increase your accessibility! Some people may also wish to read your menu online. This gives people the opportunity to read the menu before they visit, if they need a little extra time.
Having a range of alternative formats, including Braille and Easy Read formats, is the best way to make everyone feel welcome. Good Food Talks is useful place to have a look for more information about opening up your menu to everyone.
Make sure there is clear signage pointing to the accessible toilet with the symbol in a contrasting colour to the background. Also remember to position your signage where everyone will see it, for example make sure it can be seen from a seated position so wheelchair users will be able to see the signage too.
A-boards are often used to advertise your venue to people walking past, however they also cause obstruction to pedestrians. Ensure your signage is not blocking the entrance or the footpath, putting your signage on the wall is a great alternative.
Don’t forget to make everyone feel welcome in the café and ask them if they need anything.
I ordered my drinks, I went to the seat and a barista moved a chair so my wheelchair would fit in. The lady serving noticed I had gone and asked where the lady with the purple hair had gone not the lady in a wheelchair. That meant a lot. I felt valued as a person not just an invisible person in a wheelchair. - earthsoul
Tell everyone about your accessible cafe!
Write to local disabled people’s groups telling them that you have opened and what facilities you have. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback or for people to review your café on Euan’s Guide. You will be surprised how popular your accessible loo will be!
Make sure you make it clear on your website that your cafe is accessible so people know before they turn up and if you haven’t already listed on Euan’s Guide make sure you do! If you have ramps that will need to be put in place put this on your website so people know what to do when they arrive.
Know your menu
Having good knowledge of your menu will help your staff answer questions about allergies or dietary requirements. Make sure your kitchen staff are aware of the different ingredients that go in to your meals so they can advise waiting staff accordingly.
“The food was excellent and there were gluten-free and vegetarian options on the menu. As ever I asked if it was OK for my daughter to eat her own soft diet and this was no problem.” Lorna1 review on Euan’s Guide
A lowered counter makes it easier to place orders or pay the bill. If there isn’t enough space for a lowered counter, ask customers if they would prefer to order from their table.
“You order at the till which is a little high for wheelchair users but staff are helpful. They'll bring food and hot drinks to your table. On the whole we found it pretty straightforward.” – KB review on Euan’s Guide
If you take card payments then a portable chip and pin machine is better, making it more flexible for everyone. Plus if you don’t have a lowered counter then you can take payment at the table.
Our top tip: if you’re not sure just ask the customer!