Posted in Albinism, Blindness, and Me, Overcoming Adversity

The One Time A Barista Prompted Me To Take a Stand on Menu Accessibility

One summer while I worked at a marketing research firm in the mall in my hometown, the biggest thing to hit our area since sliced bread moved onto the second floor near the food court.

Starbucks, the ultimate in fancy coffee goodness, became a central hub for the younger crowd. Frappes, fancy pastries, smoothies galore. And I wanted to partake in it.

My first Starbucks experience was one that became all the norm when it comes to trying a new place. Let a few ahead of me in line and pick the one thing that sounds good. As someone who is legally blind, the wall plaque menu board is not my friend.

“I’ll have a caramel macchiato.” Said the girl ahead of me.

“I’ll have the same.” I would reply when it was my turn.

Good thing I love caramel.

But caramel gets boring after awhile, and my “3 people ahead” never yielded the variety I wanted. I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t like to advocate for myself because people will treat me like I’m a baby. I’ve had it happen before and I hated the thought of dealing with it again.

One day while on a break from a long day of field studies, I decided it would be the day to try something new.

I go up to the barista and asked what kind of drinks they had. The answer I wasn’t expecting.

“We got a menu right up there.”

I then asked if she had a menu that wasn’t up too high so I could read it. She said no.

“The menu is up there. Can’t you read it?”

I turned about 50 shades of red, embarrassed and ashamed, at which point, I made a joke about a new prescription on my glasses that didn’t take and went to my go to drink, a caramel macchiato.

A few weeks later, that visit played on repeat in my brain. Long before smartphone apps were mainstream, I had no other options when it came to ordering a drink.

I wrote a letter explaining my problems and thankfully, the response was amazing and quick. I was offered a calorie menu, which should of been offered to me as an alternative ordering method in the first place, and $50 in gift cards so I can experiment with the variety that up until that point that I never had before.

A few weeks later, I noticed my experiences at Starbucks were so much better. The baristas became more patient, the options were laid out better, and the drinks were awesome…and still are to this day.

Now a days, with technology and access to the Internet at the drop of a hat, my foodie travels have gotten better for the most part. I still get the stares and the questions regarding my ability to read, but not as much as I used to.

And yes, I still get a caramel macchiato once in awhile, but the possibilities are endless and I couldn’t be more thankful for the changes made in that Starbucks back home…and elsewhere.

Variety is the spice of life, or is it a drizzle of caramel?



One thought on “The One Time A Barista Prompted Me To Take a Stand on Menu Accessibility

  1. As someone who is not quite legally blind, but still totally cannot read those fast food menus, I am very grateful for you taking a stand! Now that I am married, my hubby can read the menus to me, but before he came along, I tended to latch onto what I normally would get, and never strayed from that. I did have to occasionally ask a cashier to tell me the price of something, and you are right, it is terribly embarrassing and mortifying. Thank you for being a voice for the visually impaired! (Now if only I didn’t have to use a magnifier to read the paper menus!)

    Liked by 1 person

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