It has been a long time since 51-year-old Kenneth Suratt has not had to depend on someone to order him a meal. For most of his life, Suratt has been at the mercy of good Samaritans when his family and friends have not been able to help him navigate his day to day routines.
Eventually, he would become an outspoken activist for the blind and visually impaired and a recent heart-warming gesture is now the spark of sustaining an inclusive society.
The owners of a restaurant in south Trinidad have added Braille to their menu all in a bid of fostering an inclusive environment for the blind and visually-impaired. Inspired by their young son, Angelo and Bunny have single-handedly taken on the challenge of improving accessibility for disabled people continuously striving to overcome hurdles. Nestled just off the Penal main road is Adam Chang’s diner, and it’s here the husband and wife duo are hoping the small yet significant step taken at their eatery can raise critical awareness.
“What we’ve done in terms of Braille is we have provided Braille menus and we also have Braille on all our signage. You will see on our walls we have signs about emergency numbers. We also have a sign that says first aid kit here, all those signs are in Braille.”
Preliminary data suggests that over 15,000 citizens are either blind or visually-impaired. However, they continue to seemingly be ostracised with next to no food venues offering menu options in Braille. On Monday the United Nations commemorated World Braille Day.
The World Health Organization estimates around 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented, or is yet to be addressed. The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored the importance of making information available in more accessible formats, including in Braille and on audio platforms so that everyone can access vital information to protect themselves and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Adam Chang’s diner doors first opened during the height of the pandemic, a risk inspired solely by the couple’s blind 5-year-old son for whom the establishment is named and dedicated.
According to Bunny, her son continues to be their driving force and catalyst for creating a more inclusive society.
Adam suffered retinopathy of prematurity, and while his world was plunged into darkness, it’s his resilience which lit the way and empowered Angelo to also convert their family home into a haven for a segment of society often forgotten.
Executive officer of the Blind Welfare Association, Kenneth Suratt said while more is still needed to foster inclusion, Adam Chang’s diner is already serving up a winning menu.