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Nipun’s mission to make restaurants ‘a pleasure’ for India’s disabled


Picking a good restaurant to eat at is a big deal for a disabled person in India, the industry is responding to help change this.

Disability rights activist Nipun Malhotra made a request to Zomato to list wheelchair-friendly restaurants in six India cities. Zomato responded to his quickly and started listing disabled-friendly restaurants in August. He told the BBC he was amazed when he travelled to the US in July and found that “it was so easy to search disabled-friendly restaurants on food apps.”

“It was a struggle to find disabled-friendly restaurants in Delhi and other Indian cities before Zomato agreed to my request. Not many places advertised themselves as disabled friendly and that was disheartening. Most disabled people in India do not visit restaurants very often and that severely restricts their social life,” he added.

“We can’t go to public parks to play sports because they lack proper facilities. So restaurants become very important for our social life, but then not many know how to find restaurants which welcome the disabled,” he said.

Also read: Restaurants exempted from installing disabled-friendly toilets in draft National Building Code


He wanted to change this, but did not know what to do. “It was frustrating, very frustrating. But thankfully my visit to the US gave me this idea that food apps can help in solving this problem.”

He said officials at Zomato were helpful and they finally added the ‘wheelchair accessible’ filter in August. Three months later, the activist said he was happy with the progress but felt more efforts were needed.


India is not known for being friendly towards the disabled and most public places still lack basic facilities to help them in everyday life. And restaurants are no different. Staff at most restaurants “do not know how to serve a person with disability. In most places, staff either show pity or simply don’t know how to respond to my requests,” he said.

Malhotra wants to change this attitude with a new campaign. He has requested the NRAI to design a course to train staff on disability rights.

“I have noticed that some staff are reluctant to serve drinks to me. Once they do, they find it difficult to understand why I need a straw with my drink and they always give the bill to my able-bodied friends.”

Malhotra says the situation is much worse in smaller towns and that now he plans “to push food apps to add a similar filter for restaurants in smaller towns and cities.”


He also wants food app services to start posting their menus in computer readable formats. “Visually impaired struggle to read menus which are usually posted as images on these food apps. If the menus are in computer readable formats then it will make it easy for visually impaired people to order food,” he added.

Malhotra said he did not want “any special attention for the disabled through his campaigns. I just want Indians to understand that we are as normal as anybody else. Some of us walk on the wheelchair instead of walking on our feet. That’s it,” he said.

Source: BBC

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