San José Restaurant Offers Breakthrough for the Blind

September 23, 2005

OLIO Mediterranean Restaurant, in the trendy neighborhood of Barrio Escalante in eastern San José, now offers something diners have never seen – or felt – before in Costa Rica. It’s not a new item on the menu, but rather a new kind of menu altogether.Last week, the restaurant started using Braille menus to give members of the country’s blind community a chance to select their own meals, according to restaurant owner Fernando Chaves. He decided to start using the menus in honor of Independence Day, celebrated Sept. 15.“We will celebrate independence with the right of inclusion that all handicapped people have and fortunately enjoy today,” said a statement from the restaurant.Chaves said three regular clients who are blind inspired him to print the Braille menus.“I have had three blind clients for two and a half years, and one of them suggested it,” he told The Tico Times.“More than anything, all you need is initiative. It seems hard, but it isn’t at all; all you need is to produce new menus with a Braille printer.”The four-year-old restaurant also has wine bottles with Braille tags and offers wheelchair access.The house where Olio is located was built more than 200 years ago and sits next to the unused train tracks for the former trains to the country’s Atlantic and Pacific regions.

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