The new restaurant SIGNS is the first of its kind, a 150-seat upper casual dining and bar staffed with deaf servers. The restaurant brings a new level of opportunity to individuals who have hearing impairments or are Deaf.
The vision of SIGNS encompass three ideas: To become one of the best restaurants in Canada, to promote the use of American Sign Language (ASL), and to provide career opportunities and growth for the Deaf in the hospitality industry.
Starting from the second you walk in the door at SIGNS, you are highly encouraged to start utilizing ASL to communicate. Cheat sheets are provided on each table to help practice when ordering with servers. Each item on the delectable menu, has a sign description restaurant goers must use to communicate their order. The atmosphere of SIGNS encourages individuals of all abilities to attend and experience something new and try amazing cuisine.
SIGNS creates a comfortable environment for the servers as well, most of the 30 or so employed Deaf servers did not have hospitality experience. The opportunity to work in the food industry creates an empowering experience for workers by eliminating barriers for communication with the aid of menu and gesture instructions.
Owner of SIGNS, Anajan Manikumar, hopes that the restaurant serves as a way to introduce individuals to the basics of American Sign Language. He also notes that 5% of over-15-year-olds have some form of hearing loss, and that SIGNS could hep an underemployed segment of the population in Canada.
The restaurant which opened on Tuesday, July 29th, has already been overwhelmed with great dining reviews and reservations.