For some folks living with a visual impairment, eating out in a new or public place can sometimes be intimidating. Fear of knocking things over, not knowing what is on the menu, and having trouble finding things on your plate, are all common things that people encounter.
Recently, IN-SIGHT offered a small group workshop on mealtime skills that offered some practical tips for taking the stress out of eating out. Among the items that were discussed:
- When visiting a restaurant for the first time, do a little research. Most establishments publish their menu online. Check it out before you go so that you have an idea of what you may wish to order.
- Ask the server what the specials are. This may give you a hint as to the type of foods that might be available. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the server for some advice – “I am in the mood for chicken, what would you recommend?”
- Carry your lighted magnifier or use the camera on your smartphone to get a better view of the menu. If you are in a fast food place where the menu is mounted over the counter, bring a monocular or take a picture of it with your phone and enlarge it.
- Restaurants are notorious for having dim lighting. Be sure to bring a small portable light or use the flashlight on your phone to make seeing the menu and what is on the table a bit easier. If you get seated next to a window, ask them to lower the shades to cut down on sun glare.
- When seated at the table, rather than sweeping your arm to find your water glass, try sliding your fingertips slowly around in front of you in order to feel for your glass, plate, and silverware without knocking anything over.
- When dinner comes, ask your server what is on the plate then feel around with your fork to determine the placement of the meat, starch, and vegetables. It is also helpful when ordering to ask them not to put garnishes on the plate to help simplify finding the food you want.
If you have questions about mealtime skills we can help! We offer individualized and small group training in these skills and more. With a little practice and helpful tips, you can take the stress out of eating out!