A restaurant staffed entirely by the hearing impaired has opened in the Gaza Strip to help break down barriers and eliminate stigmas which, until recently, meant that deafness was considered a mental disability in Palestinian society.
For six months, staff at Atfaluna, which means ‘our children’ in Arabic, were trained on how to communicate with their diners –- strategies that include lip-reading and a lot of pointing.
Waiters and cooks use sign language, while guests will be invited to point to menu items that range from chicken curry, chow mein, fried red mullet, chicken filet with black pepper, hummus and baba ghanouj.
Funded in part by the Drosos Foundation of Switzerland, the restaurant, which sits near Gaza port, was established to promote employment among the deaf in the Gaza Strip, where it's estimated that one percent of the population suffers from total or near-total deafness, and where education often stops after the age of 15, reports Reuters.
A quarter of that population is also unemployed.
Facebook photos reveal a dining environment warmed by cream-colored leather banquettes, wine glasses atop burgundy tablecloths and a small brigade of waiters in button-down shirts and burgundy ties.
The centerpiece of the restaurant is a cut-out mural detailing the different hand gestures of Arabic sign language.
Meanwhile, it’s not the first time a company has been staffed entirely by deaf workers. To raise public awareness and help those with disabilities integrate into society and live independently, Indian delivery service Mirakle Couriers in Mumbai is also made up of workers with hearing impairments, points out trendspotting site Springwise.