Food19th January 2014

Restaurant Offers Deaf Friendly Service

Using improvements in technology, Rita's on the River improves communication with deaf customers

by Sarah Lawrence

In San Antonio, Texas, a downtown restaurant is setting the standard in deaf friendly services. Rita’s on the River, a restaurant that is at the heart of the local community, is spearheading a new approach to serving the city's deaf community with technology playing a big role.

​Joining in partnership with Deaf Link, a company that provides on-line interpreters, staff at the restaurant were shown how easily they could take an order from a Deaf customer. The move could change the way restaurants do business across the US and wider afield.

Scott Bailey, a local Deaf man said, "I think it's wonderful. San Antonio is very famous for welcoming visitors and guests”. He and Emily Arriaga were at Rita's on Friday representing Deaf Link. The partnership between both businesses will offer something simple but revolutionary for Deaf customers. It is a decision that will take away most of the stress experienced by Deaf customers when they go out for a meal.

Benjamin Soto, working at the restaurant approaches Scott and Emily with an ipad, which he uses to call up the Deaf Link App, through which both he and the customers access an interpreter. It’s pretty much like making a Facetime or video call. Through the interpreter Benjamin, Scott and Emily are able to chat in the usual customer/employee way, and the order is taken easily and without fuss.

It is a breath of fresh air for Scott, "I think deaf people will be shocked because this is the first restaurant," he said. "No one else has this. Rita's is going to step up the game."

The manager of Rita's on the River said the partnership between the restaurant and Deaf Link is long overdue, "It's a group of people that over the years I think have been tremendously ignored and under-served, and we're in the hospitality business so we want to serve people of all types," said Gregg Weston, manager of Rita's on the River.

All those concerned in the partnership hope that this use of modern technology will set the tone for the food service industry and that many other restaurants follow suit. 

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Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Food

19th January 2014