Loud and proud: the coffee shop run by deaf people

08 June 2016 - 12:52 By TMG Digital

Cape Town’s newest coffee shop is staffed entirely by deaf people. I Love Coffee‚ which was opened on Tuesday by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille inside a Claremont gym‚ is the brainchild of Gary Hopkins‚ 51‚ who has left a career in marketing with the dream of a national - and even international - chain of coffee shops and restaurants run by the deaf.With 24 seats‚ the pilot store has only three staff - Thembelihle Qezu‚ Shanlee Arendse and Kaye-Lynne Goddard - but Hopkins said the response to the idea had been overwhelming.“It’s more than just a coffee shop‚” he said. “It’s about breaking down barriers‚ and correcting the perception that deaf people are disabled.”Customers will be encouraged to learn the sign language for words such as “coffee”‚ “milk” and “sugar”.Staff have been recruited with the help of the National Institute for the Deaf. They have been trained at Tribe Coffee‚ and Hopkins said he had received support from the Radisson Hotel in Newlands‚ which has several deaf employees.Some of the shop’s baked items are supplied by Brownies & Downies in central Cape Town‚ which provides employment for people with conditions such as Down syndrome and foetal alcohol syndrome.Zille's younger sister is deaf‚ but she said her family did not learn sign language because her sister was taught speech and lip-reading. ..

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