Deaf saleswomen with a smile at the cake shops in Stations in Tokyo area

Deaf saleswomen working
at the cake shop in Yurakucho Station

There is a cake shop, called "Rapport" meaning the bond of the human hearts, in the vicinity of the ticket gate each at JR Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station. Eight Deaf women aged between 27 and 60's work at these shops.

When a customer comes to the shop, Nobuko Okazaki (58), one of the saleswomen, shows the board with a smile. It says, "We are Deaf taking charge of this shop. Please be understanding".

The customer, at first surprised for a moment, would understand before long. When to order the kind and the number of cakes, some person uses the touch panel; or some writes on paper.

Okazaki says to the customer who purchased the cake, "Thank you" from the bottom of her heart though the pronunciation is not clear.

A hearing man (65) who resides in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture is a patron; whenever happening to pass near the shop, he buys one cake. He says, "I think that it is possible to help them who have the handicap even a little as I live on the pension. However, their warm smile have rather encourage me".

The East Japan Railway Retail Net (former East Japan kiosk) opened the shop as part of the employment for the persons with disabilities in 2003.

Until then the work for them had been only a stock control, etc. To expand their work activity, the company developed the system such as touch panels to help communication.

The Deaf saleswomen communicate one another in sign language, and with the company headquarters through the fax and e-mail.

Okazaki, who was born deaf, learned to lipread her mother. At the hearing high school, she used to ask the teacher after the class about what was taught in writing. After bringing up a child she visited the recruitment of the employment agency after the half a year of opening the cake shop. "I was interested because I have never heard of any shop managed only by Deaf people." She has been hired ever since.

As the cake shop is located in the station, people often ask for the direction to some place. When they learn these saleswomen are Deaf, they would click their tongue. Some would leave them with a few parting shots. However, Okazaki doesn't mind it, just disregards.

"It is a smile that the customer and we smoothly communicate each other. I always want to make our cake shop friendly to anyone with the smile".

Japanese source:

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