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Project Team Members: Kevin Shaw, Mckenzie Sullivan, Paula Fletcher, Katlynn Sverko

People living with sight loss enjoy dining out, grabbing a coffee and snack on the go, or picking up some takeout on the way home. When it comes to reading a restaurant menu, many report difficulty reading a paper menu or digital screen, even with OCR technology on their smartphones. Restaurant staff can’t always help someone with sight loss, and asking friends and family to read the menu can often rob people who are blind or living with low vision of their dignity and independence.

MenuVox has created a mobile solution that instantly and automatically presents users with an accessible menu on their phone screens. These menus are interactive and navigable via a screen reader on their devices. The mobile application uses GPS, WiFi positioning, and Bluetooth beacons to accurately and dynamically display the menu for the restaurant at the user’s location.

How does your project remove barriers for people with disabilities and/or aging populations?

MenuVox creates a more accessible dining experience and facilitates independence and confidence for people who are blind or living with low vision.

Where did the idea for your project come from?

The idea for MenuVox came from the challenging first-hand experiences founder Kevin Shaw had while not being able to find a restaurant’s menu on his phone. He saw a need for an accessible way to deliver that information to users that is as easy as picking up a menu and reading it.

What are the goals and objectives of your project?

In an effort to create a more accessible dining experience, MenuVox’s goal is to develop a native application for iOS that allows users to accessibly gain access to a restaurant’s menu and restaurant owners to comply with AODA standards.

Who is the target audience for your project?

MenuVox’s target audience is people living with vision loss and restaurant owners looking to comply with accessibility requirements.

What did you and your team gain from being involved in the Accessibility Project?

Our involvement in the Accessibility Project helped shape the philosophy behind our product and our objectives in creating a product that contributes to a more accessible world. Through the Accessibility Project, our team learned the importance of an audience-centered approach in building a digital product, and we gained a deeper understanding of the needs of the accessibility community as a whole. The Accessibility Project allowed our team to gain the foresight to determine gaps in our product’s concept by affording us the resources to test our product in groups, and to gain feedback from potential users before we developed the product. These resources helped shape our product road map and ultimately helped solidify both our project’s goals and the impact we are determined to have on merging the gap between the restaurant industry and the accessibility community.

What are your future plans for your project?

MenuVox’s future plans include building a native iOS application available to users on the Apple app store. Our ultimate goal is to use existing infrastructure from other applications like Blind Square to build our application out, and to further provide the accessibility community with a product that breaks down boundaries and improves their lives.