Making good food accessible to everyone
Good Food Talks makes it easy for blind and visually impaired diners to eat out at thousands of UK restaurants by providing accessible menus on their website and iOS mobile application.
The Story Behind the Platform
Good Food Talks was founded in March 2013 as the brainchild of Matt Wadsworth and Kate Bennett Wadsworth‚ who came up with the concept after experiencing first hand the frustrations encountered by blind and visually impaired diners when eating out at restaurants.
Accessible menus in resturants at the time were limited to either bulky braille menus that only 1% of the visually impaired population are able to read‚ or more commonly diners were left reliant on the waiter or a companion to read the menu out loud. Both options are far from inclusive and hardly create a relaxed resturant experience.
The initial phases of developing the platform focused on using talking menus as a potential solution to the problem of creating inclusive and accessible menus. However after an initial period of user testing‚ Matt and Kate found that not all users found this type of text to speech functionality useful.
However‚ what they did notice was that users loved the independence that came with using their own device. This revelation prompted them to think about how they could position Good Food Talks as a device-based interface between customers and restaurants.
This knowledge gave them the confidence to self-fund and build their Minimum Viable Product‚ which focused on providing menus in an accessible format available across the web and on mobile. They would leverage the in-built assistive technologies supported by devices to transform menus into a range of accessible formats.
Within several months of developing their MVP‚ the team landed their first major restaurant chain deal with Carluccio’s‚ which operates over 80 locations across the UK. This was a breakthrough moment‚ which has propelled the company into working with some of the UK High Street’s biggest restaurant brands‚ including Strada‚ Pret and Nandos. You can now see the Good Food Talks logo on tens of thousands of menus across the country.
The real wow moment however came in early 2019 when Good Food Talks was adopted in over 900 JD Wetherspoons pubs. According to Matt‚ this represented a major milestone for the business and a sign that they were making a massive positive daily impact on the lives of their users.
Whilst there is still plenty to be done in the UK chain and independent restaurant market‚ the team is already looking at international expansion‚ with the USA as a prime target due to language similarities.
Designing for Accessibility
“I trust hedgehog lab because they get it and they know us”
Matt Wadsworth‚ Co-Founder‚ Good Food Talks
Whilst we always work to inclusive design principles‚ our work with Good Food Talks presented a particular challenge to our development team‚ as site needed to be fully custom-built in order to provide robust integrations with screen reader technologies.
Another requirement of the project was that the site needed scale across multiple font sizes‚ alongside supporting OpenDyslexic‚ a free typeface designed to mitigate some of the common reading errors caused by dyslexia. This kept our design team on their toes‚ as any user interface needed to be designed to work sensibly in all scenarios.
As part of their on-device strategy‚ Good Food Talks also makes use of the accessibility features in-built into modern smartphones and devices. These include assistive features such as VoiceOver‚ dynamic font sizes and reading support.
Supplying Accessible Menus at Scale
Restaurants who wish to provide their diners with accessible menus using Good Food Talks have two options available. Independent restaurants can select a self-service plan‚ which provides an extremely affordable route into the platform.
For chains and multiple-branch restaurants there is a managed option whereby the Good Food Talks team will completely configure their landing page‚ restaurant locations and multiple menus. We provided the underlying architecture to support this in the form of an Advanced Programming Interface (API) which enables the platform to integrate with third-party data sources.
Want to try Good Food Talks for yourself?
Access the Good Food Talks Website here
Download the iOS app here