'Deaf restaurant' Signs encourages Toronto diners to order in sign language
Signs Restaurant and Bar is the first restaurant in Canada to join a growing movement to raise awareness of the hearing impaired. (Signs Restaurant / Facebook)
Kendra Mangione, CTV Toronto
Published Saturday, July 12, 2014 7:36AM EDT
A new Toronto restaurant is encouraging diners to talk with their hands.
Signs Restaurant and Bar, which opens on Wednesday, is staffed mostly by deaf servers, and encourages patrons to order food and drinks using a sign language cheat sheet included with the menu.
A team of hearing hostesses will work at the restaurant at 558 Yonge St., near Wellesley Street East, to help out sign language novices.
"It’s like a restaurant, we just happen to have deaf staff," owner Anjan Manikumar told CTVNews.ca.
A first in Canada, the restaurant joins a growing international trend in raising awareness of the deaf community through sign language menus. Similar restaurants exist in San Francisco, San Antonio, Paris and the Gaza Strip.
According to Statistics Canada's latest data, gathered in 2006, 5 per cent of Canadians 15 and older have some form of hearing loss.
About half of people (50.2 per cent) with hearing loss said their highest level of education was high school or below. In 2006, the most recent data, only 47.3 per cent of people with hearing loss between the ages of 15 and 64 were employed.
Statistics Canada said that, of the people with hearing loss who were surveyed, 6.5 per cent of people believed they were refused a job due to their hearing, while 3 per cent believed they were refused a promotion.
The concept is similar to another sensory dining experience at an eatery called O.Noir, located at 620 Church St.
O.Noir diners sit in complete darkness, and are served by blind guides. Customers order their food in a lit lounge area before taking their seats in the pitch-black dining room.
They cannot use flashlights, matches, cellphones, cigarette lighters or luminous watches, giving patrons a better understanding of what it's like to be blind.
About 3.2 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older have some type of seeing limitation, according to Statistics Canada. Four in ten people with seeing difficulties have an education greater than high school, and 36.3 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 were employed at the time of the survey in 2006.