Restaurant Offers Crash-Course in ASL

A restaurant in Canada is giving customers a mini crash-course in American Sign Language, calling upon them to sign their order. The Toronto restaurant, called Signs, aims to serve delicious food in an environment where the deaf can work and dine using their own language and where the hearing can learn some ASL and a bit about the deaf community.

The concept came about when Signs owner, Anjan Manikumar, starting picking up ASL to communicate with a regular guest at restaurant he managed. Manikumar wanted to open a place where ASL could be the official language, and where deaf employees could shine in the service industry, since many deaf people struggle to find work. One server, Mehdi Safavi told CBC News in Toronto that he was excited to work “in a deaf environment where hearing people can come in and experience our world and our culture.”

All customers are urged to use sign-language to communicate with the staff. Pointing at menu items is discouraged, and Signs has ASL cheat sheets on the walls and table so that even diners who aren’t fluent can order their food in ASL.

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