Visually-Impaired Teen Starts Clever Braille Menu Business

A 15-year-old visually-impaired girl from the far-flung New Orleans suburb of Mandeville recently noticed a really frustrating trend in the local restaurant industry — hardly anybody was offering braille menus, which means that visually-impaired diners either have to listen to a menu-long recitation from a patient dining companion or just trust a waiter's recommendation. Since nobody trusts waiters and people going out to eat like to talk about things other than menu items, Sophie Trist decided that other visually-impaired people might really appreciate having their own braille menus, which they could peruse at their own leisure.

Blogger Wendy Waren, the Vice President of Communications for the Louisiana Restaurant Association, wrote last month about Trist, a rising sophomore at Mandeville High School, and her nifty little service creating braille menus for restaurants that don't currently have any of their own. Not having a way to read menus is annoying, especially for a visually-impaired individual who, like Trist, has taken steps to lead a more independent life. "This can be a major problem for visually impaired individuals," said Trist. "If a sighted person does not accompany me, the simple task of ordering off of a menu becomes a challenge."

For a nominal fee of $20, Trist will provide a restaurant with a braille copy of its menu. Since about 10 million Americans have some kind of visual impairment, Trist's service seems like an especially helpful (and simple) way for restaurants to make dining out just a touch more inclusive.

Visually-impaired teen offers restaurant transcription [Ira Blogs]