Echoes: A chain of cafes run by deaf and mute

Reaffirming social positions of the disabled

Society

April 19, 2019

/ By / New Delhi



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Spread across three cities, Echoes is a chain of cafes run by the deaf and mute

Managed seamlessly by a team of deaf and mute staff, Echoes, a chain of cafés, is challenging stereotypes and changing dining experiences for people. 

Sign language boards at the entrance, flashcards with requests of frequently ordered dishes, customer friendly mechanisms to deal with the deaf and mute staff, Echoes is making the muted voices audible.

Situated in three Indian cities and having a total of four branches, Echoes is a chain of cafés that serves pocket-friendly, delicious food while reaffirming the place of the disabled in society.

A brainchild of six friends – Sahib Sarna, Shivansh Kanwar, Gaurav Kanwar, Sahil Gulati, Prateek Babbar and Kshitij Behl, the café was first opened in 2015 in a neighbourhood in south Delhi. A concept well received, it went onto open another part of Delhi as well in cities Bangalore and Kolkata.

The staff here cannot speak or listen and communicates using graphic boards or the sign language. Yet, the team seamlessly communicates with their guests, serves them and sends them back smiling.

Here is how they do it!

Communicating better

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For calling out the staff, each table is provided with a bell that is connected to bulbs at the staff counter

To bridge the communication gap between customers and servers, the team at Echoes has come up with creative yet functional ways.

For calling out the staff, each table is provided with a bell that is connected to bulbs at the staff counter. As one rings the bell, the bulb for the particular table switches on and the servers are informed.

A set of placards on every table with frequent requests like- water please, call the manager, bill, thank you- add to this comfortable mechanism.

For placing the order, the customers are given note pads on which they can write down the codes of the various dishes on the menu.

Visiting Echoes is just like going to any other restaurant. What makes it special though is how the café is spreading the spirit of care.

Caring for one and all

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To bridge the communication gap between customers and servers, the team at Echoes has come up with creative yet functional ways

Initially having trouble even coordinating amongst themselves, Echoes staff now lives together.

The founders initially took the help of Noida Deaf Society, a school for the hearing impaired, to find the staff. “They all were already well trained at the school. We just had to assist them a little to help them get the pulse of the place. A little training did wonders with them,” adds Amchai.

Positive results

Working with Echoes has not only boosted the confidence but also instilled a sense of independence among the servers. Saif Ali, one of the head trainers at Echoes, got to know about the opportunity from a friend. With a proud smile, he shares using sign language, “It feels good to be a leader. I have worked at all the branches and trained many new workers in these four years. I have grown a lot in this period.” {Interpreted by Amchai}.

 

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Many a time people leave warm wishes for the staff in chits, cards and even tissues

Not just professionally, working at Echoes has allowed the staff to aspire for better opportunities in their personal lives too. “I want to travel the world. The idea of serving in different countries abroad fascinates me” shares Ali.

It is no surprise then why the concept of echoes is being appreciated by many. The café’s online presence has increased significantly in the past two years. The concept is new for people and is able to evoke an emotional value amongst people.“Visiting Echoes helps us in contributing our little share to the community,” says Sonali Arora, a student of Delhi University.

 

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The café’s online presence has increased significantly in the past two years

“Not only is the concept great, but the food is also delicious. I love their non-vegetarian dishes,” adds Aameen, a budding poet who is also from University of Delhi.

“We are overwhelmed by the love of our customers. Many a time people leave warm messages and wishes for us in chits, cards and even tissues. Some even place the placard reading ‘thank you’ on their tables before leaving,” say Ali and Amchai.

An amalgam of social change and indulging dining experiences, Echoes is indeed spreading smiles and progress.

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