Bema'aglei Tzedek puts Braille menus at the fingertips of Jerusalem's blind
Choosing your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant is a snap for most diners, but for the blind, it can be a major challenge - unless the restaurant provides special menus in Braille. While availability of Braille menus in Israel and the rest of the world has traditionally been spotty, one organization is working to change that, and has already helped over 80 Jerusalem restaurants develop menus in raised print.
Bema'aglei Tzedek (Circles of Justice), which aims to promote social justice and equality in Israel, is perhaps best known for its Tav Chevrati (Social Seal) program. Much like the certification seals which many restaurants obtain for meeting kashrut standards, the Social Seal is awarded to restaurants which treat their workers fairly and provide suitable handicapped accessibility. The Social Seal is also awarded to other businesses which meet these standards.
While providing ramps and large bathroom stalls is one big part of meeting the needs of the disabled, according to Yael Assor Bemagalei Tzedek's Jerusalem coodinator for the Social Seal, it's not all there is.
"What we've seen and what we've heard from friends who are blind is that there is an acute need for people to be able to order their own food," Assor explains to GoJerusalem.com.
Together with non-profit Aleh, The Center for the Blind, a team of Bema’aglei Tzedek volunteers has helped enable Jerusalem restaurants meet this demand. Not only Braille menus are available, but the two organizations are also making sure that restaurants offer large-print menus for those who are visually impaired, but not completely blind.
While restaurants with menus that change daily, like newly opened Machaneyuda, can't print Braille menus for obvious reasons, Assor says that Bema’aglei Tzedek is also working with such places to develop beverage menus in Braille, since those generally remain the same from day to day.
Right now, Jerusalem is one of only a handful of places in Israel where restaurants have the Social Seal, and according to Assor, the public has thus far been extremely receptive to the program.
"Jerusalem is the most respected place where we have the most businesses," she says. "The public here knows it better and really requires the Tav Chevrati places, which is what gives it strength."
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