South Africa’s first deaf-run coffee shop to launch
PRESS RELEASE – I Love Coffee, South Africa’s first Deaf-run coffee shop will officially open its doors in Cape Town in June. In partnership with Tribe Coffee, the entirely Deaf-run coffee shop launches with the aim of breaking communication barriers between the hearing and the Deaf.
The shop offers an experience unlike any other, where customers are encouraged to engage verbally as well as visually with the Deaf staff, patrons are given the opportunity to be taught rudimentary sign language to place their orders and engage with the staff.
The idea is the brainchild of social entrepreneur, Gary Hopkins who explains: “It’s more than just coffee shop space, it’s about a mind-shift and correcting the perception that Deaf people are disabled, Deafness isn’t a disease and should be recognized as a culture, much like American, Italian, South African etc.”
Of the estimated 2-million disabled people in South Africa, 500,000 are classified as ‘Deaf’ and almost 1.5-million South Africans are considered to be ‘hearing-impaired’ which means that 4.5% of South Africa’s total population is Deaf.
While South Africa recognises 11 official verbal and written languages, it has yet to recognise South African Sign Language (SASL) – the visual language that is common across all South African Deaf people. This in turn has deeper social implications as it limits opportunities for tertiary education and results in high unemployment amongst the Deaf.
Employment is one of the biggest challenges the Deaf face in South Africa – this is evident in light of the fact that currently 70% of persons who are hearing impaired are unemployed.
“The i love coffee brand aims to be a cool, fun and engaging and is not out to garner a sympathy vote,” he says. “We specifically chose a fun name and incorporated Deaf language into the brand by replacing the heart symbol with the SASL sign for ‘I Love You’.”
I Love Coffee will be officially open for business on the 6th of June and based at X-Body Fitness, The Mews, Draper Street, Claremont.