A blind guest at a U.K. restaurant was taken by surprise when she received a Braille birthday message in a heartwarming act of kindness.
The video of the incident has gone viral on TikTok and shows Natalie Te Paa, saying that the London, U.K. restaurant, Luciano by Gino D’Acampo, did not have any advance notice that she was coming.
She and her friend, Claire Sara, visited the restaurant after they watched a show together, and Sara informed restaurant employees that it was her birthday.
Te Paa was presented with a plate that had “happy birthday” written on it in Braille and when her friend guided her hand to the plate, Te Paa starts feeling the raised dots she exclaimed, “No freaking way! They did not!”
The on-screen caption of the video reads, “So take heart despite how broken the world is right now … true kindness still exists.” Te Paa says, “Oh my gosh! Are you kidding me?” She laughs, “That is insane. Thank you so much.”
The restaurant’s general manager, Giovanni Galluccio, said they typically used melted chocolate to write birthday messages, but this was the first time a Braille message had been used.
“My mind was blank for a second and then I was like, ‘Is this in Braille? I found it hard to string a sentence together,” she said. “My mind was just going. I’ve never had anything happen like that before. It was wild.”
Te Paa has celebrated her birthday with nice desserts and waitstaff singing her “Happy Birthday” before, but this act at the restaurant has moved her for the fact that it accommodated her disability like that.
She was especially touched by the care that the restaurant staff put into making the message, which included looking up how to write the message in Braille and making sure the chocolate was cold enough so it wouldn’t melt when she touched it.
“What really blew me away was that Claire went to use the restroom and (restaurant staff) pulled her aside and were like, ‘Hey, we were going to write this in Braille, what do you think, would that be appreciated?’ So it was their idea,” Te Paa said.
“She didn’t even set it up, it was their idea, and it just blew me away. I’ve never, ever had anything like that happen. They just really did go above and beyond.” The video has garnered nearly 16 million views and Te Paa said she has been “blown away” by the positive response.
“The fact that people have responded so much and so well to it just shows how much the world needs kindness right now, how much the world needs a message of hope, needs to see people doing things and going above and beyond for each other,” she said.
Galluccio was shocked to see the outpouring of support as the restaurant has only been operating for a few weeks. “We still can’t believe it, how a little gesture that we would do every day went viral, we can’t believe it. We don’t even know how to react to it,” Galluccio said. “Hospitality is about service, about the basics of service, making their day.”
Watch: Restaurant Gives Blind Customer A Touching Surprise
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Te Paa, a singer, said she hopes this will lead to a larger conversation about inclusivity and awareness around blindness and accessibility. “Blindness is not easy. There are a lot of times that you do face discrimination, you do face things that are challenging and tough and difficult,” she said.
“So the fact that they did that for us really opened up a conversation of awareness. We’ve had comments from restaurant owners and chefs being like, ‘I’ve never thought of this idea.’ She added, “We need to make it more inclusive for people of all disabilities.
“Being able to learn how to get on the level of the person you’re seeing in front of you. If just one restaurant is inspired to make their service more inclusive, that’s all I could ask for,” Te Paa added.