Friday 27 April 2018

WATCH: Blurred menus, and swaying furniture at pop-up cafe give customers a glimpse of life for patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Conor McCrave

Blurred cafe menu boards and swaying furniture gave customers a glimpse of what life is like for people with Multiple Sclerosis today.

The pop-up MSunderstood Cafe was set up by MS Ireland on Exchequer Street in Dublin today to highlight some of the issues facing people with the degenerative neurological condition.

Menu boards faded in and out of focus and the counter swayed back and forth, making it more difficult for customers to concentrate on their order.

Everything from the walls to the furniture were designed to mimic some of the symptoms people with MS suffer from, including blurred vision, cognitive function and trouble with balance.

Customers said that it was an eye-opening experience.

Dubliner Tom Murphy told Independent.ie: "Once I walked in, the floor moved slightly and I just thought it was bad workmanship.

"The handles on the cup are really small, so it is really difficult to get your hand into it. That was really uncomfortable".

Deirdre Walsh, from Ranelagh in Dublin, said she thought her eyes were deceiving her when she first looked at the menu boards.

She explained: “When I was up at the counter I looked at the menu and noticed the menu had gone blurry, so I had to look twice to see if it was actually my eyes deceiving me".

Another woman described the floor as spongy and “funny to walk on,” she found that the tiles on the walls had affected her vision.

Tanya Cunningham, from Co. Down, said: “The walls in the café were blurred. They looked like tiles, just clean tiles but they were really difficult to focus on so I found that quite disorientating."

MS Ireland CEO Ava Battles said she was happy that the initiative helped the public to understand what people with MS might be going through.

“The response has been really positive.

“When they walk to the counter the person will be automatically be drawn to the menu and when they are asked what they would like to order, the menu becomes blurred and distorted.

“Walking in and realising the floor is uneven gives them insight into the balance issues. It is really just about helping the customer understand the reality of living with MS.“

The debilitating condition affects more than 9,000 people throughout the country and recent research stated that Ireland ranks poorly at making treatment available for patients.

Ms Battles described waiting times as “appalling” and said “with all these things we’re doing, you’re trying to do something that genuinely raises awareness.” 

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