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Feel the menu to choose the food at this Bengaluru restaurant

Next in our series on The Power of Braille is the story of a restaurant in Bengaluru.

It was a chance encounter with a blind Bharatanatyam dancer, Gangamma, that got Bhavna Jain to introduce menu cards in Braille at her restaurant in 2013.

Om Pure Veg Restaurant is in Koramangala, Bengaluru

"Gangamma was telling me how the infrastructure for the disabled was so good in the United States where she is based", remembers Bhavna. What also came through in her words was the lack of expectation of any such facilities in India. "I felt that surely there is something I can do to make my restaurant accessible to the blind in every way".

She discussed the idea further with some employees of the NGO EnAble India, who frequented her restaurant. The NGO's office is close to Om, and many of its staff members eat there. EnAble India also runs many programs for the blind. A few of the employees volunteered to help Bhavna design the menu in Braille.

Braille menus designed with the help of NGO EnAble India

It took four months of work and many trials before it all came together and on the festive occasion of Ugadi in April 2013, Om Restaurant took a significant step towards becoming accessible to the visually impaired.

"You should see their faces when they walk into the restaurant and see a Braille menu. They read the whole thing from beginning to the end, like its a book!" - Bhavna Jain

Having a Braille menu makes eating out fun & relaxing for everyone

The menu is updated regularly to reflect the changing prices, and Bhavna says that over the years, her staff has become sensitised towards the needs of the blind customers. "Many of the employees here are very young and not so educated, but they have learned how to help the blind, when to pull the chairs out and to make sure they speak clearly and loudly - just small touches that make someone feel welcome and included". The footfalls from blind customers has increased since the Braille menuus were introduced, but for Bhavna that is not the incentive. "I see them at my restaurant, laughing and talking, and its so impressive how they lead independent lives, cooking, traveling and living by themselves", says Bhavna.

"Here we complain about small things and they are leading rich, full lives"

Click below to read the other stories in The Power of Braille series:

This Bengaluru doctor gives prescriptions that the blind can read

A lifestyle magazine in Braille opens a new window to the blind

Be it Harry Potter or the Ramayana, this Jaipur library brings literature alive in Braille

Be it paintings or photographs, this architect uses Braille to make art accessible to everyone

Thinkerbell Labs makes learning Braille easier for children

With Braille business cards, BarrierBreak makes a case for workplace inclusion

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