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Nashville hospitality training is geared toward serving people with disabilities

Posted at 7:55 AM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 16:06:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Hospitality workers at Nashville businesses are learning how to be sensitive to those with mobility, intellectual, hearing and visual disabilities.

All Access was crafted by the Nashville Convention and Visitor Corporation and a panel of people with disabilities.

"Our training isn't about the height of the counters or the weight of the door pull," said Shannon Largen. "It's about customer service."

Largen is the director of training at NCVC.

"I think often times we make the mistake of avoiding the things we don't know, even if that's a person that we don't know how to respond [to] and we are so afraid of being offensive that we are offending by avoiding an interaction," Largen said.

NCVC explains All Access as a course that ensures Nashville businesses are welcoming to all guests. Participants learn about disability etiquette, communication skills, and the customer service side of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This session features individuals with disabilities as they provide the tactical training elements and also share authentic, first-hand experience, enriching the knowledge of the participants.

Dylan Brown is one of the individuals featured in a video testimonial. Brown is a quadriplegic. He was in a car crash at 22 years old, which left him wheelchair-bound.

"For someone like me, I want to be able to pick where I'm going to sit [at a table in a restaurant]," Brown said. "I don't want somebody to say 'I'm going to pull this chair out of the way for you' and 'here you go.'"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans is living with a disability.

Staff at Martin's BBQ have taken the All Access course.

"Those training classes really do take it one step above and beyond," said Shannon Brace, director of marketing at Martin's. "You want to make sure you're mindful of what someone needs and make them as comfortable as possible."

"The more I know about the clients, the better the event is for everyone," said Kendra Wash, director of private dining. "Treat everyone like they're family. We're a family restaurant."

Roughly 1,000 Nashville hospitality workers will take the All Access course this year.

"It warms my heart to know our city is looking forward...and people with disabilities are included in that hospitality," Brown said.