|Muroga Yasushi (right)|
A cafe called "SingwithMe" that the staff are all Deaf opened in Tokyo at the end of December, 2011.
YANAGI Masahiro (39), the owner and manager who is born-Deaf, had advanced opening preparation since two years ago. He said, "I have wanted to have a cafe where Deaf people can feel comfortable."
His own experience was the chance to start this kind of business. "There are many cafes/restaurants where sign language is not understood even when to order food. which made me frustrated many times."
Masahiro, who had worked to support persons with disabilities to find a job, had felt the necessity for a place to work which a disabled person can be satisfied.
What he thought of was something like a cafe which the Deaf manages. However, when a few major franchise companies were consulted on opening a cafe. their reaction was negative.
They simply said, "Spoken conversation always comes in business. Since the Deaf cannot speak, it won't be business." So Masahiro was totally refused.
Fortunately MUROGA Yasushi, who owns a soup specialty store in Nagano Prefecture, offered help to Masahiro as he believed there would be a big chance in Masahiro's idea. "There is no store for Deaf persons to get relaxed while there are a number of people interested in sign language. So why not the things get together for business opportunities."
About 70 percent of visitors are office girls and college students from the neighborhood. Communication with a visitor is performed by using sign language or writing on the board. The information terminal portable in the register is set so that those who don't know sign language can make an order smoothly. There are some visitors who get interested in learning sign language taking advantage of coming to the restaurant.
Although a secured place for people with disabilities to work shows a spread every year, a store where all the staff are Deaf called is unusual like the cafe "SingwithMe".
Masahiro says, "I want to develop the system which supports a disabled person who starts business based on my own experience."
Social Cafe Sign With Me official site (Japanese):