San Antonio restaurant caters to deaf diners

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by MAYRA MORENO

KENS-TV

Posted on January 19, 2014 at 9:36 PM

SAN ANTONIO —A downtown restaurant is spearheading a new approach to serving the city's deaf community, and technology plays a big role.

You could say a meeting for employees of Rita's on the River will change the way restaurants do business across the country.

"I think it's wonderful. San Antonio is very famous for welcoming visitors and guests," said Scott Bailey, who is deaf.

He and Emily Arriaga were at Rita's on Friday representing a company called Deaf Link. The partnership between both businesses will offer something revolutionary for the hearing impaired.

All it takes is an iPad, an interpreter via the Internet and a friendly employee -- like Benjamin Soto.

Soto is using the technology to take Bailey's order. He calls up the Deaf Link app, which provides a live interpreter. Think of it as Face Time; both Soto and Bailey are able to communicate with no problem.

It's a breath of fresh air for Bailey.

"I think [the deaf will] be shocked, because this is the first restaurant [doing this]," Bailey said. "No one else has this. Rita's is going to step up the game."

The manager of Rita's said the union between the restaurant and Deaf Link is long overdue.

"It's a group of people that over the years I think have been tremendously ignored and under-served, and we're in the hospitality business so we want to serve people of all types," said Gregg Weston, manager of Rita's on the River.

Weston hopes this sets the tone for the future and that the food service industry takes note and listens.

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