McDonald’s and RightHear make fast food accessible

There are about 200,000 blind in Israel. While those citizens must navigate a sometimes difficult post-pandemic world (as is the case with visually impaired people everywhere), there is at least one place – albeit an unlikely one – where conditions have actually improved since the beginning. of the pandemic: McDonald’s, the largest restaurant chain in the country.

Earlier this month, the fast food giant announced an expanded partnership with RightHear, an Israel-based startup that makes technology for the visually impaired and blind. Under the agreement, RightHear will install small sensors in all McDonald’s Israel restaurants, targeting locations such as entrances and restrooms. The sensors, which use Bluetooth technology to connect with users through the RightHear smartphone app, can provide restaurant patrons with useful information. (For example, the app might say the bathroom is on the left.) RightHear can also read emergency evacuation protocols, menus, and plaque inscriptions through the app. And the app is available in 26 different languages, including Hebrew, Mandarin, Arabic, English, and Spanish.

This isn’t exactly a new collaboration. The two companies first announced their union in 2019. But that was with a select few locations; now the technology will be deployed at all 215 locations in Israel over the next six years.

“We’re at the forefront of accessible signage, so it’s no surprise that other industry pioneers, such as McDonald’s, Grand Hyatt Hotel and Microsoft, are working with us to make the world more accessible and inclusive,” said RightHear CEO Idan Meir.

RightHear’s was founded in 2016 by Meir and Gil Elgrably (now the CTO), who worked together at another store-related company called Zikit. While working, they discovered an indoor micro-positioning technology that allowed them to more accurately distribute coupons in the store.

The idea for RightHear came about while Meir and Elgrably were investigating in a shopping center, where Meir kept getting lost in the building. That gave him the idea: maybe they could target their technology at people who didn’t have the luxury of picking up visual cues in a store. So RightHear was born to start something new – something that would make accessibility at the heart of its mission.

Since then, RightHear has signed contracts with more than 800 companies to make their public spaces accessible to people with visual impairments, including Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee and, of course, McDonald’s.

Partnering with McDonald’s — a company that has adopted a wide variety of supportive approaches to make their restaurants more inclusive, including accessible kiosks and food packaging — was a no-brainer.

“McDonald’s has adopted multiple accessibility solutions over the years to improve their customer experience,” Meir says. “It’s only natural that we work with them to help blind and partially sighted customers gain safe and independent access to their restaurants.”

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