“Are you ready? The experience will begin”, Sandrine announces cheerfully, waitress at the restaurant “Dans le noir?” From toulouse. This very special restaurant has been established a week ago at the Pullman center hotel.
Like the other servers, Sandrine is visually impaired, for her part blind from birth. After asking the clients to get into Indian files, she guides them through the room completely plunged into darkness. She sets them up, tells them where the cutlery is, the basket of bread, the water bottles. “Do you know how to comment on using water when you can’t see?”, she asks “By putting your finger in the glass?”, tempt some guests. “That’s it, but not just any old way”, explains Sandrine “we put the index finger so that the first phalanx is in the glass, you will feel when the water comes to your finger.” The roles are reversed, the servers guide the valid clients.
The customers are a bit confused. “It’s weird, we’re losing all our bearings”, says Katlheen, who works in the restaurant business. “We find ourselves facing a great stranger”, she continues. The guests take turns trying to guess what they have on their plates. Some drink red wine, others white wine, the senses are overwhelmed.
Help people discover disability
If the experience is obviously paying (from 54 euros the menu), the objective exceeds that of a classic restaurant ensures Emilie Rifleu, the coordinator of the restaurant Dans le Noir? Toulouse. “It is a sensory experience, friendly but also human. The servers are all blind or visually impaired. This invites to question the handicap in general. To wonder how we can integrate blind or partially sighted people in a business? How to interact with them? It helps to understand their handicap because the customers are transmitted to their places the time of an evening “, adds Emilie Rifleu.
Before getting started, the servers who deal with most of an activity have completed a week-long training course. For Sandrine, who is also a piano and voice teacher, it is important to share her handicap. “To serve to bring together all that I like to do in the depths of me. I like to welcome, I like to communicate, to reassure the customer, to exchange. And then, I have all my life to fight against discrimination and point out that differences between people are riches. As part of the restaurant, this is what we also show “ she asserts.