What makes a restaurant stand out? Is it just the food? What about the am- bience and service?
Talking Hands, an unassuming restaurant in Hyderabad, has no Michelin stars, and no celebrity chef. It serves all the local favourites like Chicken 65, and chilly chicken. For me, though, it stands out because it is proof of how inclusive em- ployment can make perfect business sense. Save for the cook, all the staff are deaf. It was set up a few months ago by our NGO partners the Deaf Enabled Foundation (DEF) along with the Telangana tourism department. I was delight- ed to enjoy a lunch at Talking Hands with the TMF team on a recent visit to Hyderabad.
As soon as you enter the restaurant, a bright mural shows the most common gestures in sign language. The menu further teaches you how to communicate with the staff, as do the table mats. Each dish on the menu has a sign code, and diners can learn the ges- tures to place their orders. I am happy to add that 13 of their employees were trained at our SMART+ centre run in partnership with DEF. We were served personally by Mohammad Hanif (in the photo below), a SMART+ trainee, who has also worked at the Lemon Tree Hotel, and is now proud to be the Senior Steward at Talking Hands.
With only a little more attention to detail than your average restaurant, Talking Hands succeeds in walking the talk as far as inclusion for persons with disabilities is concerned. We hope to see the hospitality industry welcome more persons with disabilities into its workforce.
Talking Hands has brightened up the lives of 25 deaf employees. I hope that this festive season will bring the Talking Hands team suc- cess in their endeavours!
May this Diwali bring us all light and inspiration from role models like Talking Hands!