You may have never heard about some place like this before: a coffee bar where deaf people can not only find employment, but where deaf people can come in contact with those who can hear. That is the idea behind Amsterdam’s latest cafe, known as the Sign Language Coffee Bar. One of the baristas, a deaf woman named Ellen van der Werf stated that, “it’s new and fun to communicate with hearing people.”
The unemployment rate in Amsterdam among deaf and blind is high compared to those without such handicaps. This situation came to the attention of Bas de Ruiter and his wife Sandra Ballij, the two creators of the coffee bar. De Ruiter stated, “The participants have no other restriction than that they cannot hear. They have as much learning ability as everyone else, so they should be able to go that far.”
Thus, to empower the deaf community, de Ruiter and Ballij started the Sign Language Coffee Bar, the first cafe to hire only deaf staff. The ambition behind the coffee bar is quite clear: to create a place where, as de Ruiter puts it, “people come by because there is good coffee and you are well helped.” While there are other establishments in the city that focus on impaired groups, such as Restaurant Ctaste, experience center Cthecity, and the work liaison Ctalents, the coffee bar is indeed unique.
Meet The Baristas
Eight baristas work at the cafe and receive the same salary as other baristas throughout Amsterdam. Ellen van der Werf, for example, is pleased to have found work where she is taken seriously. “I applied for a lot before this, but whenever employers discovered that I was deaf, they didn’t dare to accept it.” Now, she can work in a place where she is no longer judged for her handicap.
Visitors who do not understand sign language can learn in on the spot at the cfe. As you order your espresso or cappuccino, you are guided through the signs via a screen showing a silent film. You can also also learn how to describe how you want your coffee made, or how to ask for something other than coffee, such as soda or chocolate milk. Of course, you will also learn greetings, such as “thank you.” Whoever wants to be prepared for their visit beforehand, you can study up with the videos at home from signlanguagecoffeebar.nl by streaming.
How awesome is the Sign Language Coffee Bar in Amsterdam? Come and find out! There is a great variety of drinks and food to choose from, as well as a chance to learn a new language today.