MAKKAH: An ambitious scheme encouraging eating establishments to provide Braille menus for visually impaired customers has been launched by a Saudi volunteer organization.
The initiative, led by a team from the volunteer administration at Al-Ahyaa Centers Association in Makkah, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom.
Instigated as part of World Braille Day celebrations, organizers expect a similar national eatery ordering project for the deaf and people with speaking difficulties to be served up in the near future.
Maha Al-Sharif, head of the Rouh Makkah volunteer team, said the idea came about after she witnessed a visually impaired person having each item on a restaurant’s food and drinks menu read out to them.
Her volunteer team, established seven months ago, is looking to promote the Braille service nationally.
Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering. It is a wonderful, outside-the-box idea that has been well-received by visually impaired individuals. The initiative will help spare them from some of the life problems they experience daily.”
He pointed out that visually impaired people often felt embarrassed having to ask for menus to be described to them, especially in busy outlets.
Associate team leader, Nourah Al-Maliki, noted that the integration of groups, such as the visually impaired, into Saudi society was an important aspect of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.
The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.
Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.
She said: “This is volunteer work and national duty. We welcome at any time our visually impaired sisters and brothers who will have a 50 percent discount on drinks for life.
“We also welcome any voluntary initiative or idea that serves the community, especially the special groups who are dear to our hearts.”