A restaurant for the deaf

A restaurant in China’s capital  Beijing  is offering opportunities to people that are hard-of-hearing by employing a team of deaf waiters who communicate with customers aided by guide cards. Located in the artistic 798 district in northeastern Beijing, “Forgive Barbecue” is one of the few restaurants in China with deaf waiters who through these cards and simple facial expressions can work with ease.

Cao is part of a four-member team that carries out the work typical of any restaurant: to attend, serve, charge for the service and clean up, all done through sign and body language. The establishment opened its doors two summers ago when its promoter Lu Lu decided to switch jobs from caring for children with special needs to launch a project that would include people with disabilities. In China, many children with disabilities do not find good jobs once they get older.

Before starting work, all the waiters – whose ages range from 20 to 30 – underwent several months of training where, in addition to learning day-to-day tasks, they also gained self-confidence. From the ceiling hang posters with basic instructions on how to order food, ask for the bill and approach waiters, accompanied by drawings with the most basic gestures of sign language. Lu plans to open another half-dozen similar restaurants in Beijing, of which at least one will include a small “experimental room” where diners can feel the same as a deaf person.