Industry News | January 23, 2012

New Drive Thru for the Deaf

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Quick serves regularly serve more than 50 percent of their business through the drive thru. But according to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are an estimated 36 million deaf and hearing-disabled people in the U.S. who are left without that option.

A tool from Inclusion Solutions is helping to change that. The OrderAssist includes a button that hearing-impaired customers press, informing employees that they’ll be pulling forward and ordering at the window on a print-out menu.

Most drive thrus “force [deaf] people to use a system that doesn’t work for them,” says Patrick Hughes Jr., founder and CEO of Inclusion Solutions.

Mark Wafer, president of Megleen Inc. and operator of six Tim Hortons units, tested the tool with “remarkable” results. “We have now installed the unit in our five drive-thru locations,” says Wafer, who is deaf.  “Drive thrus are designed for fast or convenient service, but only if a customer can hear a voice over a speaker.”

Wafer’s Tim Hortons locations are the only ones in the chain to use the system.

More quick serves may be wise to get on board. In a survey conducted by Inclusion Solutions, 42 percent of deaf respondents reported leaving a restaurant
drive thru without making a purchase, while 94 percent said they’d be likely or highly likely to visit a drive thru that offered order assistance. Hughes says the OrderAssist might also qualify for a tax credit under the Americans with Disabilities Act.