> Barrier-Free Restaurants Promotion
Everyone has the right to participate fully in community life. While the able-bodied may take it for granted, most physically handicapped in Hong Kong may find difficulties in their work and social life due to the lack of accessible facilities in certain public transport, pedestrian facilities and buildings.
A barrier-free environment not only benefit the physically handicapped and wheelchair-users, but also the elderly, pregnant women and parents with prams. Therefore, the prevalence of accessible facilities in Hong Kong has always been one of the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth’s (hereafter referred to as ‘we’) main concerns.
Sponsored by the Labour and Welfare Bureau, we launched the Barrier-free Tourism in Hong Kong programme in 2008 to cater for the needs of disabled travellers. The Barrier-Free Travel Guide was published to provide information of accessible facilities in major sightseeing spots in Hong Kong. Encouraged by the positive comments, we decided to extend the coverage to catering outlets. Based on the Barrier-free Tourism in Hong Kong programme, we submitted another fund application to the Labour and Welfare Bureau and started the Promotion of Barrier-free Restaurant programme in 2011.
The Promotion of Barrier-free Resturant programme aims to promote the concepts of ‘barrier-free restaurants’ and ‘friendly space’ in government departments, catering groups and their outlets in Hong Kong. The programme also provides information of barrier-free restaurants to the physically handicapped through publications and webpages. The spirit of “social inclusion with disabled and able-bodied” is fulfilled through joint participation of the community and the disabled.
Under the programme, a restaurant visiting team formed by disabled and able-bodied visited a number of restaurants from June to September 2011. They collected information of their barrier-free environment in aspects such as entrance, aisles, tables, chairs and disabled washroom.
Based on the restaurant charge and the people’s consumption power, we visited two main types of restaurants: 1) Those recommended in the world-renowned Michelin Guide (2011) which offer three courses at $300 or less. 2) Those included in the Michelin Guide which charge $100 or less. The collected information are then analyzed to form a picture of barrier-free restaurants in Hong Kong.
Information of the wheelchair-friendly restaurants visited are included in the Barrier-Free Resturant Guide, so are social enterprise restaurants. Social enterprise restaurant is one of the emerging ‘industries’ in Hong Kong. It is operated on the business model and aims to provide on-the-job training and jobs for the disadvantaged group.
The Barrier-Free Resturant Guide is mainly compiled to meet the disbaled’s need to dine out, especially electric wheelchair users. It introduces 22 Michelin Guide recommended restaurants and 14 social enterprise restaurants. Some are not fully barrier-free, but they welcome wheelchair users.
Due to shortage of resources, a long list cannot be included in the Barrier-free Restaurant Guide. Please understand if it fails to meet your need. We hope the Promotion of Barrier-free Restaurant will be a start to active promotion of barrier-free restaurants in Hong Kong, the ‘heaven of gourmets’. We believe that by educating the public with the concepts of ‘barrier-free restaurant’ and ‘friendly space’, disabled-friendly environment can be provided in local restaurants. This may bring Hong Kong another honour - the barrier-free‘heaven of gourmets’.