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The Bar Man column: Jeff Doyle discusses ways West Norfolk pubs could become more disabled-friendly





In his weekly The Bar Man column, Jeff Hoyle discusses ways pubs could become more disabled-friendly…

I was interested to discover that the West Norfolk Deaf Association are organising an evening at The Lattice House on Friday, April 26.

I am not sure what that entails, other than a social gathering of people with a shared condition, but the poster promises a pool table, board games, live music, plenty of seating and hot and cold drinks.

The Lattice House pub in Lynn
The Lattice House pub in Lynn

If my recent experiences are any guide, the beers from Moon Gazer such as Cheeky Jack and Jumper are likely to be excellent and I hope a good night is had by all.

It did get me thinking about what pubs can offer to become disabled friendly, especially as this is recognised in both the Good Beer Guide and the excellent CAMRA Whatpub website.

When we are deciding whether to award the symbol, I think that too often it is based on whether there is a disabled toilet available, but there are so many other measures that a pub can implement.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Lancashire-based Trust Inns have a very useful guide setting out what can be done.

Top of the list is staff training, ensuring that all members of the team are aware of the issues, are confident in the use of the facilities, services and the equipment available - for example, using the hearing loop, accessing the keys for the toilets and locating portable ramps and large print menus.

As well as practical knowledge, it is also a state of mind. Taking drinks to the table or offering table service when the bar is crowded can help people feel comfortable and relaxed.

Many older pubs may have steps up to the entrance or to the outside drinking area and the provision of folding ramps ensure easy access.

Bar staff may be able to see outside and anticipate a need, or perhaps a bell could be installed so that they can be summoned when needed.

In some cases, a dropped kerb outside the pub may make access easier. Inside, the layout can be designed to allow unrestricted access to the door, bar and toilets. There is little point in having disabled toilets if no one can reach them.

Perhaps furniture could be movable rather than fixed and attention could be given to sharp corners on tables. Think also about the design of food and drink menus.

I remember a restaurant in Lynn not too long ago where everyone had their phone torches out in an attempt to read the menu.

None of us were vision impaired, but the combination of colours of the text and the background coupled with the low ambient lighting made them very hard to decipher.

Text size and colour, simple descriptions, illustrations and short sentences all make menus more readable.

Who among us did not experiment with as many different fonts as possible together with effects such as italics when we first began using word processors?

Over the years I have learned that simple is often clearer, and as the faculties decline that is truer than ever.

Clearly, if we were designing a pub from scratch, many of these features would be built in, but older buildings may present insuperable problems, in which case online information and social media allows you to be open and honest about what is on offer.

Better for people to choose to go elsewhere than to arrive and be disappointed and upset.

In my view, a good pub is one that welcomes and caters for a wide range of customers, and it is good to see The Lattice House embracing this for what I hope will be the first of many such events.



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