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Illustrated menus designed for disabled employees

Thanks to photos and drawings of dishes and ingredients, disabled employees at the Rives de l'Eure retirement home in Normandy are able to see what is on the daily lunch menu. For those with reading difficulties, this visual language is a mini revolution.

"It enables those with reading-impairment issues to know what is on the menu," explains Jessy, who works at the Rives de l’Eure retirement home. Three disabled employees, Jessy, Elom and Marouane, created a visual language understood by all, with the help of Elior who prepares their lunches. All recipes are illustrated with photos or pictograms of the dishes or the ingredients. Illustrations of the daily menu are then displayed with magnets on a magnetic board at the entrance of the restaurant. At the Rives de l'Eure retirement home, 63 people with disabilities work in a supported environment, for the most part packaging luxury brands. Certain employees are sometimes unable to read and understand the menus for the week. For this reason, Elior has devised a simple solution so that everyone can understand the daily menu and thus choose what they want to eat.

It enables those with reading-impairment issues to know what is on the menu.

Illustrations may include a drawing of a whole carrot to signify sliced ​​carrots for the starter, plus a drawing of a fish and a photo of rice for the main course. "This language is a very concrete way of teaching them the different vegetables and making them discover the shape of a fish or a raw zucchini," explains Sabine Caillet, deputy director of the retirement home. To illustrate Shepherd’s Pie, for example we use a drawing of a potato and a picture of meat. Country flags are used for foreign dishes, such as paella. To illustrate broccoli flank, the team uses a picture of the flank and a drawing of broccoli. According to Elom, a member of the creative team: “There are ingredients that I didn't know before. This system helps me eat well and feel better ". The language goal: to make sure everyone knows what they are eating. "The next step will be to integrate the Nutri-Score indication so as to guide employees in making their food choices," added Sabine. Providing nutritional information of recipes is important in helping people with disabilities to eat a balanced diet.

The objective for Elom, Jessy and Marouane was more than creating a new language, it was about full-scale project management. After nine months working with Elior catering manager, Jean-Paul Joulia, they succeeded in deciphering menus for the greatest number of people. “They were aware that they were carrying out this project for everyone else. The spirit of transmitting the notion of sharing was key, “Jean Paul commented. “And they found a methodology themselves to deploy a visual language that speaks to them”. The trio worked on a procedure whereby, every week, a different team translates the menus; classifying the images and determining the time required to translate the menu. “The employees worked in partnership with Elior, a mainstream company”, explained Sabine Caillet.” They used power point, made presentations in front of an audience, and met with marketing teams, etc. They were a constant source of proposals. That’s what made it a fabulous adventure! “. This language will now be used by around fifteen retirement homes within the ADAPEI 27 network, which the Rives de l'Eure retirement home is part of. This educational and inclusive tool is an extremely valuable asset for empowering people.  A procedure to transfer skills in how to manage this menu-display campaign is underway so that Jessy, Elom and Marouane can pass on the torch to other groups of employees in other retirement homes. 

They were aware that they were carrying out this project for everyone else. The spirit of transmitting the notion of sharing was key.

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