Drive-thru Device for the Hearing Impaired

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If you're rushing around and your stomach is growling, racing through a drive-thru might be your best bet. But, what if that wasn't an option?

For millions of people who are hard-of-hearing, it isn't and a local restaurant is trying to change that.

Besides burgers and fries, one Culver's is now serving up a special kind of service to make its drive-thru accessible to everyone.

“Hi! How are ya?” asks Culver’s Manager Shaun O’Meara as he walks up to car parked in the drive-thru.

Door to door service is the latest in customer service at the Culver’s in Menomonie.

"Just fill out this order form and bring it up," O'Meara tells the customer.

Managers say its a nice way to help the hard-of-hearing.

"It's real convenient,” O'Meara says. “They can just drive up and push a button. It rings a bell inside and someone runs out."

But members of the Hearing Loss Association of Western Wisconsin, or HLAWW, say it's much more.

"You can't hear from the inside because it's so scratchy,” says Gayle Dodge, who is hearing impaired. “So this way you don't have to be embarrassed about ordering."

Or skip the ordering all together.

"I do,” says HLAWW Member Mary Jane Griffin laughing. “Unless I have somebody with me who can translate what they're saying."

That's exactly what managers at Culver’s don't want to happen. And why they installed the $600 device.

"It's taking the barriers down to anyone that wants to can order in the drive-thru," says O'Meara.

And HLAWW members say they'll be pulling trough the drive-thru whenever they're in town.

"I would definitely stop in on meeting night to grab something quick to eat," says Griffin.

"I would probably choose this restaurant to eat just because of the feature," says Dodge.

Culver's workers say so far there hasn't been a lot of people pushing the new button. But, they hope once word spreads, they'll be running menus out the door on a regular basis.

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