April 24, 2010

Drive Thru: How Do You Do It?

One of the questions I hear people ask is, "How do deaf people order food using the drive through?"
I often wonder this myself. For me, a hard of hearing person, or someone with some deafness, I never really hear what is being said. I can hear the speaker but I always assume they are asking, "Good afternoon. What would you like to order today? Would you like anything else?" I think most people with typical hearing can't hear what is being said anyway. 

What are your experiences? How do you order food at the drive through?

Below is a video about a company, Order Assist, with a mission to install a type of machine that can help many people with communication issues (deaf/hh, speech disorders, etc.) order food effectively at the drive through. I am not hopeful that many fast food restaurants will be willing to use this service. I guess if there is a restaurant who is aware that most of his customers are deaf/hh or have some sort of communication issue, then maybe they would think about using this service.

I think it is a great idea. But, I think the best thing would be to make the drive though accessible for all by including a touch screen menu and then if someone needs help they can push a button to call or type a message.



  1. I don't. I walk in. Better yet, cook at home. Fast Food is bad for you anyway.

  2. See also NAD memo on accessible drive-through services.


  3. I've experienced only one or two occasions, in the far past, of problems with drive-throughs. Here in Rochester NY where two major schools for the deaf reside, most drive-throughs are accommodating of deaf customers.

    I just stop briefly at the speaker to confirm my choices at the display, then drive up to give my order as a written note and make payment. Usually I can pick up my order at the next window. Only rarely will they ask me to pull up forward and wait while someone brings me the order.

  4. I don't really like using drive thrus but when I do I usually don't have too much trouble hearing. Like you said, it's easy enough to assume what the person is saying on the other end. :)

    I have heard about a couple of fast food places that have interactive touch screen menu ordering inside. You choose from the screen, pay the machine and then wait to have your order brought out. That seems like a great idea, but I haven't seen it anywhere around here.

  5. I prefer not to eat fast food, but occasionally I like to stop at the local Starbucks with drive through window after a work out. They know I can't hear and have never had a problem with letting me pull forward to the window to order face to face. Generally people are good about this when you explain the situation.

    That said, a few years back Deaf Mom Karen Putz in Chicago ran into a really super unfriendly person at a drive thru there. It's interesting that Culver is now capitalizing on their new drive-thru for Deaf policy in Chicago. Good for them!! :-)

  6. Fast food is pretty gross...but sometimes if I happen to swing by I just drive up the window and give them my order or walk into the store in person.

  7. I tend to go through drive-thru of Taco Bell quite often because they're the best snacks, according to my kids. So, yes....I use it and I understand most of the time. Funny tho, my kids expect me to place an order for them. Ahh, once I ordered crunch crap, and then my kiddo laughed so hard and by then I realized what I said.....she got her crunch wrap.

    So..yea, I can actually use the drive thru with my hearing aids on. But there are some drive thru's with bad speakers or timid speaking teens that I just go right to the window.


  8. Where I live, there used to be a certain button Deaf people could press in the drive-thru lane at McDonald's. It was shaped like an ear. That way, drivers just took their written order to the window. Sometimes folks just signed what they wanted. It made things pretty efficient.

    However, McDonald's got remodeled. They got rid of the ear-shaped button. Now some people make sure they write up their orders ahead of time. They still breeze past the order stand and drive directly to the window. Some people just run inside.


Keep it civil.