The Brilliant Reason Why This Restaurant Is Staffed by Deaf People

The eatery offers guests a unique experience while raising awareness.
Aug 10, 2014·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Learning any new language is hard, but one Canadian establishment is making it fun and worthwhile.

Signs restaurant opened in Toronto last month with 50 deaf servers, some with no work experience, on staff. According to owner Anjan Manikumar, the idea struck him while he was waiting on a deaf customer who had to point to the menu to order.

“I felt he wasn’t getting the service he deserved,” he told CBC News. “He wasn’t getting the personal touch.”

Manikumar designed the restaurant, which serves Canadian and international dishes, to break down barriers between those who can and can’t hear. Deaf staffers can be comfortable using their native language as they work. Through the menu and images on the tables and the walls, guests get to learn basic sign language.

About 70 million people in the world are deaf. According to the World Federation of the Deaf, sign language makes accessibility possible for those who can’t hear. Without it, reads its website, “deaf people will be isolated.”

“We expect our customers to order using sign language. Our menus are designed in such a way that our customers can do that,” Manikumar told CBC. “This will allow our customers to experience the fun of learning something new.”

Signs received 200 job applications, and server Mehdi Safavi is grateful to have his first full-time job.

“It’s wonderful. I’m so excited to be here,” he tells an interpreter in the video. “It’s a deaf environment where people can come in and experience our world and our culture, so it’s really amazing. It’s a challenge for me. But a great challenge.”