In an unprecedented initiative to integrate people with special needs into the Palestinian society, a new restaurant with an all deaf-mute staff opened in the Gaza Strip.The restaurant has 14 deaf-mute waiters and waitresses who have been receiving cooking classes for the past eight months. Instead of writing the names of meals and beverages, the menu of this restaurant is made up of signs and numbers to ease communication between the staff and the clients and to introduce clients to the world of sign language . The main aim of opening this restaurant is helping the deaf-mute, who are generally marginalized, to become active members of the society and to create a culture of acceptance between them and other people, said one of the employees at the Atfaluna (Our Children) association for the deaf-mute .“At the beginning, we were apprehensive about the way people will react to the idea and if they will manage to deal with the restaurant staff but we were pleasantly surprised.” She explained that the restaurant is getting large numbers of clients and they are communicating with the waiters and waitresses very well.One of the staff explained in sign language that some communication problems might take place like misunderstanding the meals or the number of dishes, but they manage to resolve them quickly.The staff decorated the restaurant with ornaments inspired by Palestinian heritage to encourage customers to come.One percent of Gaza’s residents suffer from partial or total deaf-muteness.
By HANAN AL-MASRY
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