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Sounds tasty: app helps visually impaired people to hear menu

Innovation from inventive couple allows customers to let their phones tell them what is in our food and drinks line-up.

We have teamed up with Good Food Talks to make it easier for our visually impaired customers to browse through the menu at their local Wetherspoon.

Our menu is already available in Braille format in every Wetherspoon pub; however, only one per cent of blind people in the UK read Braille, leaving almost two million who don’t.

Good Food Talks (goodfoodtalks.com) is a revolution for the blind and visually impaired when dining out, as well as for those with other reading difficulties, allowing browsing and listening to the menu through a fully accessible website and iOS mobile app.

It was founded in 2013 and is the brainchild of Matt Wadsworth (pictured) and Kate Bennett Wadsworth.

They both love food, wine and beer and, above all else, greatly value their independence.

Help

In the past, blind and visually impaired people had to rely on help, from either a sighted dining companion or an extremely patient staff member… or attempt a slow and frustrating trawl through a Braille menu.

With their shared passion for creative problem-solving, Matt and Kate put their heads together to invent a universally accessible menu – the kind of thing someone could read independently and as casually and effortlessly as an ordinary menu.

After months of research and testing, they figured out that the ideal medium for their idea, in our incredible age of technology, was the device everyone already had in their pocket – a mobile phone.

Aloud

Most smartphones, tablets and computers now come with a host of customisable accessibility features, including a built-in screenreader which will speak the written word aloud.

The project has been a huge challenge and great commitment, but Matt has been known to get a bit of a kick out of challenges!

Hannah Brennan, Wetherspoon’s website manager, said:

“Matt invented the app after experiencing his own frustration at the Braille menus in restaurants and pubs.

“It’s already live with several other companies – and we are pleased to be subscribing each of our pubs to the service, linking our menus into Matt’s app, to replace our Braille menus.”

Accessible

Matt added: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with Wetherspoon to make all of the company’s pub menus accessible to millions of people in the UK who have print-reading difficulties.

“In our six years so far as a business, we have made a difference to the way in which people make their choices in restaurants, making the whole experience much more equal and inclusive.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to bring our solution to Wetherspoon’s customers across the UK.”