Macular Degeneration and Me

Low Vision and High Hope

Why Are Restaurants Keeping Us In The Dark?

Even if you don’t have low vision, you’ve probably noticed that your favorite restaurant keeps the lights down low.  It’s might be a bit tricky to read the menu by the light of a candle or two or an oil lamp but the ambiance is nice. For those of us with low vision it’s painfully difficult.  I’ve carried a purse or pocket-sized light  for these low light situations.  But a few weeks ago, my mini-OTT light batteries failed and I was left trying to figure out the menu options.

Although the folks lunching with me know about my low vision, it still felt a bit embarrassing to ask someone to read the menu to me so I ordered the first thing I could figure out by the light of the candle.  Afterwards I decided to find out why restaurants really keep the lights so low.

I turned to my friend, Colin, managing partner, at The Century House in Latham, NY, one of my favorite places to dine.  Historic and charming, The Century House prides itself on hospitality and a caring staff.  Colin believes that low-level lighting in restaurants is conducive to relaxation and that’s a great point.

Colin went on to say they can provide more lighting at the table, large print menus, better table placement and will also recite the menu.  Colin also suggests mentioning the need for better lighting when reserving a table.  Good idea!

All this is excellent news when looking for accessibility in restaurants.  Take this article with you when you visit your favorite (and dark) restaurant and ask the management to offer some of these options.

I will add two more ideas for restaurants to consider:  a card on the table (large print please) indicating available options AND stocking a supply of inexpensive flashlights with the restaurant’s name clearly printed on them.  If they go home with the patron, it’s still a great marketing tool.  Restaurants might also want to note some of these options in their advertising.

My thanks to Colin for his thoughts and ideas.

My handy mini-OTT light

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