McDonald’s is coming out with a new self-service initiative that will make it easier for blind diners to order. The company wants to be more accessible and inclusive, as well as reduce the number of instances of customer service mistakes.
McDonald’s has started making self-service easier for blind diners. The new service is called McDonald’s Delivery Service.
McDonald’s Corporation is updating some of its self-service kiosks to make them more accessible to persons with disabilities.
New keypads and headphone jacks are being installed in company-owned McDonald’s restaurants’ touch-screen kiosks, which were introduced in 2015 as an alternative to ordering at the counter. Users who are blind may connect their headphones to the system and utilize screen-reader technology and tactile arrow buttons to navigate the digital menu, adding things to their basket by pushing a central button.
McDonald’s claims that its current self-service kiosks were installed in accordance with accessibility regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. A screen magnifier and a Braille-labeled “push for help” button are included in the kiosks, which feature adequate open floor space for wheelchair users.
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However, members of the National Federation of the Blind, or NFB, claimed that when they pushed the button, no assistance arrived, according to Scott LaBarre, the organization’s general counsel, who is blind.
McDonald’s launched the kiosks to allow customers to make their own orders, thus forcing certain users to wait for assistance from employees wasn’t an equal service, according to Mr. LaBarre.
He said, “We really ran against the obstacle of not being allowed to utilize these devices, which were making life a lot easier for others.”
In 2019, the NFB expressed its concerns to McDonald’s. TPGi, an accessibility software provider and consultancy company owned by Vispero, and Storm Interface, which produces assistive hardware and trades as Keymat Technology Ltd, collaborated to design and test the new system, which uses existing technology created by TPGi and Storm Interface.
The collaboration’s findings are being released as a growing number of lawsuits regarding accessibility being launched. According to the Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, just over 6,300 lawsuits were filed in federal court between January and June this year alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public spaces and commercial facilities. This year, the company expects to see more than 12,000 of these lawsuits, which would be the highest since it started monitoring them in 2013.
Some McDonald’s self-service kiosks now include a headphone jack, allowing blind customers to utilize screen-reader technology and order independently.
Photo courtesy of the National Federation of the Blind.
Mr. LaBarre of the NFB expressed worry about what he termed “drive-by litigation,” in which the parties engaged aren’t often interested in systemic change or reform.
“The ADA is a wonderful instrument, and you should use it when you need to, and you should use it as passionately and forcefully as you can,” he added.
“However, we don’t hurry into court and bring a case straight away,” he said. “We try to reach out first and say, ‘Hey, there’s a barrier, there’s a problem, and here are some suggestions for a route you may follow to address the problem.’”
The changes to McDonald’s kiosks will be gradual.
By the end of this year, all of the company’s company-owned restaurants in the United States will have the extra assistance technology. All current kiosks at company-owned restaurants in California, as well as 25% of existing kiosks in other U.S. states, will be upgraded with the technology.
However, McDonald’s claims that just around 5% of its approximately 14,000 locations in the United States are open. The remainder is managed by franchisees.
The new accessibility feature will be included to all new kiosks placed in any U.S. restaurant after July 1, including those sold to franchised restaurants, according to the firm.
Katie Deighton can be reached at [email protected].
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