An interactive menu that can talk? Yes, it is true, and I saw one in action!

I love to eat out, don’t we all? We pay good money to have choices in what we want to eat at any particular restaurant. It is also a social thing, going out with one person, or a group of people and it was not always easy to have someone read me the menu. I tended to take the first thing that remotely sounded good, and had no idea what my other choices were.

Several years ago, I saw my first Braille menu and was very impressed. They handed me this huge book that had the menu, complete with a table of contents, since there were sometimes 100 brailled pages. I found what I wanted and ordered it. Pretty easy, right? Over time however, the menus were not always updated, so I’d find what I wanted, which took quite some time because I like to know all of my choices before deciding. I tell the waiter, and they tell me “Sorry, we don’t make that anymore.” The prices too were not updated, so if they did have what I wanted, I’d get a shock when the bill came! Sometimes I would try to get my sighted husband or someone with me to help me look, just to make sure they actually have the item and check the price, but then I may as well have that person read the menu to me, because the items were not always laid out in the Braille version the same as in the print. After awhile, I stopped asking for the Braille menu.

Then there came the fabulous internet!! Well you all know I love the internet, and you can find pretty much any info you could ever need or want, including restaurant menus on line! Most times these worked great, and I could look at the menu ahead of time if I knew which restaurant I would be going to, or even make my own Braille menus. I like this option because I didn’t have to waste time I could be chatting, another thing I love to do. I already knew what I wanted and that was that.

Then a few days ago, I was in San Antonio at the Lion and Rose Pub. We were there to inform people about Knowbility’s upcoming AIR San Antonio in October. There, I saw for the first time a talking menu and I was extremely impressed!! It was easy to use, the voice was clear, and it didn’t take long to figure out all of the choices. It looks cool too! It lights up as it talks and it’s the size of a tablet, not a huge book full of pages. I realized that this opened doors for a lot of people, not just me as a totally blind patron, but those with varying degrees of visual impairments, those that needed alternative languages and anyone else who found menu reading cumbersome. It even has a USB port, so that it can be easily updated as menu items change. You can also call your server and show your order right then and there, so no more misunderstandings between waiters and patrons.

Hey, why not just do away with conventional paper menus and just use these? You would only have to buy them once, and a whole table can use it. I would love to see more restaurants incorporate them. Thanks to Taylannas Inc. for manufacturing these brilliant little machines!! Next time you eat out, think of how neat it would be to have a talking menu in your hands and maybe we can help educate and encourage restaurants about them and there many benefits!!