Deaf Cafe in Kobe City, popular among the deaf youth

"The Deaf Cafe," located in Nada Ward, Kobe City, was in the second year in August, 2008. In the cafe deaf persons enjoy communications in Japanese Sign Language (JSL). It is said that the cafe is crowded with 100 people or more at the largest sometimes. The person who comes from the distance enjoys a long talk for several hours, too. The communication space for deaf persons at the flourishing business may indicate that the opportunity for the deaf to chat together is very limited. The managing group said they would continue the cafe in the future as a place for the information exchange for the deaf.

The Deaf Cafe is managed by a group called "Hyogo Deaf Net." The rental coffee shop in the shopping street in the ward is rented, and it is open on the third Wednesday every month, 11:30-20:00. Persons who learn JSL, as well as deaf persons and their friends, visit the cafe.

When the cafe opened, the visitors were mostly people from the local area. It got into the news on by word of mouth and the Internet, etc., those who wished to expand the friendships started to come over to the cafe from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. The manager was surprised, saying that he did not expect it. There is a similar approach in Osaka and other cities, but the kind of this cafe seems to quite meet the needs of deaf persons.

Standing out in the visitors are young deaf persons. One of them is a deaf woman from Ashiya City. She is employed in the medical field after graduating from a university. At the workplace, she found that there was no one who was fluent in JSL. So, she said she has felt impatient in respect of communications.

"I communicate with my co-workers through writing, yet it is not enough. I have wanted a chance to talk freely in JSL, which actually is not easy." She took a day off and visited the cafe in July.

She said that she was surprised because there is so no connection among the deaf persons when talking in the cafe. She also pointed out that even though they are socially independent, actually there are few places that they can comfortably chat.

Source: The Kobe Shimbun

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