New app makes dining out easier for people with vision disabilities

Asia-Pacific, January 24 2017

HONG KONG: Hongkongers with vision disabilities can now order meals at select restaurants across the city by themselves, thanks to a new app ‘Tap My Dish’ released this week by the Hong Kong Blind Union (HKBU).

The smartphone and tablet app, called Tap My Dish, lists restaurant menus and reads items aloud. It also uses various font sizes and colours to assist people with vision disabilities.

Tap My Dish App launched event photoMs Adelaide Cheuk, HKBU’s senior project officer, said users would no longer need to rely on waiters or friends to order food.

“It’s a way for businesses to attract more people, and to help the restaurants show their social responsibility,” she said.

About 50 businesses have signed up with the app so far, with the union hoping to reach 500 by the end of the year.

“It really is a groundbreaking app,” said Mr Kevin Chow, executive committee member of the HKBU. “My memory is not that good, and it is pretty annoying to ask others (to tell me) what is on the menu. Now I can use the app to choose my favourite dish and see what I can afford.”

In development since mid-2016, and funded through a HK$500,000 (S$91,464) grant from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the app aims to service the more than 170,000 people with vision disabilities living in the city, as well as people with full vision.

“It’s a really helpful thing for us because the difficulty for a visually impaired person is that it’s quite difficult to (peruse) the menu,” said Ms Jacky Sze Yan-kit, assistant project officer at HKBU.

“We believe people with vision disabilities do have the same rights as the people who are sighted,” she added.

Ms Sze said it can be embarrassing for those without full vision to ask restaurant staff to explain the whole menu to them, and they inevitably would not be able to look through all of the items.

At the launch, the Secretary for Food and Health, Ko Wing-man, urged more businesses to sign up to the app.

“I hope a variety of restaurants can actively support this initiative, and help create an inclusive societal environment,” Mr Ko said.

Source: Hong Kong Blind Union, Today

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