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For April 2013:

How to make buffets more accessible

This is probably one of the most difficult things for anyone to accomplish at the best of times but I shall do my best to give some pointers.

When it comes down to it, it is more to do with how staff at a buffet table interacts with a blind person. Or how a friend or family member goes about helping their blind friend or family member. It should be kept in mind that if a person has no vision at all, or does not have enough vision to help themselves, the same strategy should be applied.

As a general rule of thumb, a blind person is unable to negotiate a buffet table and is unable to appreciate the layout of the table. So here is where they will need to depend almost entirely on sighted assistance. The best way for anyone at a buffet table to handle this would be for staff members to be trained as to how to describe items to the blind person and how to place food on their plates.

The four most important things for anyone who is helping a blind person at a buffet table or for even a friend or family member helping the person at the table are these:

  1. Offer your arm to the blind person when escorting them to the buffet table.
  2. Describe each dish of food as you move along.
  3. Allow the blind person to let you know what they wish to have.
  4. Do not pile their plates in such a way that it is almost impossible for them to negotiate their food when they sit down to eat. You need to ensure that they will be able to find what they expect to have on their plates.

You can ask the person if they wish to carry their own plate or you can offer to do so for them. It may be better to deal with the soup and salad first, then followed by the main course, then followed by the dessert. In this way, you avoid clutter and confusion.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your freelance writer and roving reporter, wishing you a terrific day.

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