News Local/State

New Website Rates C-U Restaurants On How Accessible They Are For People With Disabilities

handicap parking

flickr user/rorowe8 (CC BY 2.0)

For people with disabilities, it can be frustrating to go to a restaurant only to find it’s not accessible.

A new website aims to help. “Access Urbana-Champaign” rates more than 100 local restaurants, cafes and bakeries on their accessibility.

University of Illinois professor Meghan Burke and her students created the website, which rates each restaurant based on a 25-point survey. 

The site includes information on a variety of accessibility criteria, including whether accessible parking spaces are located nearby, whether bathrooms are equipped with grab bars and lower faucets and if menus in braille are available on request.

Burke herself has a child with a physical disability and said she has personally experienced how difficult it can be to go to public places that aren’t suited for people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility challenges.

“It can be really disempowering,” she said. “It can be really upsetting. It can also be really physically arduous to end up going to a restaurant that isn’t very physically accessible.”

Burke said she hopes the site will both help inform consumers and lead to improvements in restaurant accessibility. 

She plans to contact all restaurants to let them know what they’re doing well, as well as highlight areas they are lacking or perhaps even in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letters will include information about resources that can help them make changes.

Burke said students will update the website as restaurants make changes.

She said she’s also seeking feedback from those throughout the disability community for how to improve the site, to ensure it’s responsive to people with all types of disabilities, not just physical ones.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman