Health & Medical Disability

The Drive-Thru Is For Those That, Um, Drive Through

Today, Americans are a society that indulges in fast food.
Every socio-economic class is reached by the fast food market.
The drive through concept has actually been around longer than the fast food concept.
They date back to car hop days and drive in movies.
Restaurant chains have developed policies and procedures on how to keep their customers happy while getting them out the drive through as fast as possible.
However, sometimes there is a going to be a situation that delays the entire transaction, wrong order, customer digs in their car for money, or just slow service.
It's the American way to be able to drive through and be served at the millions of fast food establishments.
So how would a Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired individual order from the drive through? Actually, let's start with WHY? Why would a person that cannot hear or speak well want to go through the drive through? For the exact same reason millions of others do.
It's cold out, a car full of kids, late night service is only via drive-through, or it's just more convenient.
There are currently 32 million people in the United States that suffer from some degree of hearing loss.
These individuals are allotted the same services as the general public under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The ADA gives "equal access" to people with disabilities.
Now on to the "how"...
how would someone Deaf of hard-of-hearing order at the drive-through? When a person knows they cannot communicate with the box at the menu board, they will drive around to the window.
They are fully prepared to not only tell you what they want to order, but why they are approaching the window rather than having stopped "back there" at the menu board.
Situations vary from the employee being very confused but finally getting the situation corrected, to a denial of service.
In 1994, Burger King had a complaint filed against them by a deaf woman who claims she was refused service by an employee after she had bypass the intercom, drove directly to the window and placed her order through a handwritten note.
Other documented news reports include a Wendy's denied service to a Deaf man in 2006 and more recently, January 2008, Steak in Shake denied a woman service through the drive-through.
There are countless more stories through the Deaf community via blogs and vlogs.
What are major corporations doing? Not much.
Only one chain has taken some initiative to help their customers that have communication barriers, but it's not mandatory in all stores.
Headquarters for Culver's supports franchisee owners should they want to train their staff and invest in inexpensive technology that improves service in the drive-through.
Studies show that to accommodate those with disabilities of any kind doesn't take much financial investment, in most cases less than $700.
Training staff about decent customer service for those with special needs can be incorporated with standard training just like other important policies and procedures.
In the last 18 years since the ADA has been enacted, service for those that are disabled has not improved.
When will a fast food chain rise to the challenge to give good service via drive-through to all that ..
drive through?Or should over 32 million Americans just deal with it?

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