Major food critic to add accessibility info to reviews

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Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema already gives readers details about a restaurant’s noise level, hours, prices, and of course, what’s on the menu. Now he’ll also add accessibility information to that list as well. In a post yesterday, Sietsema explained that readers with disabilities often contact him to ask about restaurants’ accommodations for people using wheelchairs, or blind people. He writes that while he initially had concerns about the viability of remaining under-the-radar while inspecting doorways with a tape measure, “the facts outweigh the cons.”

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One in four American adults has a disability that significantly affects major life events, whether related to hearing, vision, cognition, or mobility. A recent Washington City Paper feature outlined the state of restaurant accessibility in the city—finding accommodations and hospitality vary widely—encouraged Sietsema to add this information in his reviews.

Hats off to Sietsema, who will not only do his readers a service but may also encourage restaurants to examine their own accommodations for customers with disabilities. Highlighting restaurants that do a good job in this important realm—and yes, noting those that don’t—will hopefully increase the number of restaurants available to customers regardless of disability.

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As we mentioned in this article about a high-school student creating Braille menus for restaurants in his area, the burden shouldn’t only fall to people with disabilities to advocate for accommodations. Nor should other diners without disabilities let their own behavior go unexamined. To that end, read more about how not to be a jerk when dining with deaf people and how to make restaurant meals seamless for blind people.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

hendenburg3
Cayde-6's Unloaded Dice

I think the “busting out a tape measure” thing is a bit of an exaggeration. All buildings that house “public accommodations” (including restaurants) constructed or having had renovations after the passage of the ADA are going to be compliant, with the following exemptions: private clubs, religious organizations, Native American building, businesses that employ more 14 full-time people per day, and when the cost of compliance is prohibitive. Those last two are the ones that would apply to restaurants.

Now sure, some larger cities will have older buildings that aren’t necessarily compliant, but I’m not sure that you could even PURCHASE a commercially-made door that’s smaller than 32" wide by 80" tall (ADA minimum width is 32", max 48") and city building code-compliant.