Improving accessibility for people with disabilities
November 27 2017 10:56 PM
TOGETHER: From left, Accessible Qatar ambassador Ahmed al-Shahrani; Christopher Clark, Chief Operating Officer of Oryx Group for Food Services; South African ambassador Professor Shirish Soni; and Phinda Vilakazi, President of GTL Ventures at Sasol.

Community Report

An initiative of the South African embassy in Qatar in association with Nando’s Qatar and Sasol will help improve accessibility options in Nando’s restaurants in the country. 
An event was organised by the embassy and the two South African companies at Nando’s restaurant in The Pearl on Sunday evening to mark the initiative. The event was attended by South African ambassador Professor Shirish Soni, Sasol and Nando’s senior management, media representatives, Accessible Qatar initiative ambassadors and members. 
Sasol, the international integrated chemicals and energy company, through its Accessible Qatar initiative, has shared expertise and insights gained from its ongoing support of accessibility in Qatar. It conducted an official accessibility audit of the Nando’s premises, and advised Nando’s on how to achieve an accessible restaurant, through staff training on how to deal and communicate with people with disabilities, braille menus, in addition to physical venue accessibility.
Nando’s, part of the Oryx Group for Food, has committed to making their restaurants in Qatar accessible to people with disabilities. The restaurant has nine branches across Qatar and has begun adopting the accessibility criteria at its Pearl branch, which has been certified as accessible by Accessible Qatar’s auditors. A similar audit will be performed at all other branches in the coming months.
Nando’s is now offering both its Arabic and English menus in braille. In a bid to be more inclusive, staff at The Pearl branch received training on how to best serve customers with disabilities, and this training will be cascaded to other branches. In addition to that, Nando’s is offering an exclusive 20% discount to all customers with disabilities and their companions.
The embassy launched the initiative also to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. The day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
Ambassador Shirish Soni said, “We are proud to join with Nando’s and Sasol to make an important difference. Accessibility leads to empowerment and helps people with disabilities to take advantage of opportunities, become agents of change, and embrace an active role in their communities. Together, we can create a more accessible Qatar for everyone.”
Phinda Vilakazi, President of GTL Ventures at Sasol, said, “Sasol is proud to see a positive and tangible impact of our Accessible Qatar initiative. We hope that our collaboration with Nando’s and their commitment will encourage other restaurants across Qatar to make necessary changes to become more accessible.”
Christopher Clark, Chief Operating Officer of Oryx Group for Food Services, said, “We believe that supporting people with disabilities, even in the smallest possible ways is a privilege. At Nando’s we believe in passion, pride, courage, integrity and family. These values reflect the background of why we feel honoured to reach out to our community and be associated with a wonderful initiative of Sasol.”
Accessible Qatar Ambassador Ahmed al-Shahrani said, “Disability is part of the human condition, and many of us will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives. With partnerships like the one today, we are taking small but important steps to make everyone feel welcome in the community, and raising awareness against the stigma and loneliness that is felt by many people with disabilities.”
Talking to Community, 34-year-old Hassan Mousa with a walking disability, said, “It is good of Nando’s to provide facilities for people with disabilities. People with disabilities think about how they will go to a restaurant, how they will have their food, and how they will use the bathroom there. I always think about how I can get inside a restaurant with my wheelchair. All restaurants need to learn from Nando’s.”
Mousa, who works with a government organisation, said, “Whenever I along with my friends plan to go out for food, I will ask them if the restaurant [is accessible by] wheelchair or not. For a wheelchair, a bigger washroom door is required. Staff at a restaurant should be trained on how to deal with customers with disabilities.”
Twenty-one-year-old Nawal Akram, who also has a walking disability, told Community, “I feel that this app (Accessible Qatar) is bringing a change in Qatar. It is also showing to the region that they need to be accessible to everyone regardless of any disability. This app is like a stepping stone. It is showcasing restaurants and their locations. There are people with disabilities and they do go out. They need to be given a sense that they are also part of the community.”

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