Caixin

Deaf Culture Gets a Hearing as Community Struggles With Limited Career Opportunities

By Roma Eisenstark
Zhang Long, the owner of Silence, a cafe in Beijing, signs the word for coffee in Chinese Sign Language. At the cafe, Zhang, who is deaf, and his business partner, Liu Jing, hold sign language classes and talks about the deaf community. Their efforts have helped increase awareness about deaf culture in China. Photo: Song Xiaoyi/Caixin
Zhang Long, the owner of Silence, a cafe in Beijing, signs the word for coffee in Chinese Sign Language. At the cafe, Zhang, who is deaf, and his business partner, Liu Jing, hold sign language classes and talks about the deaf community. Their efforts have helped increase awareness about deaf culture in China. Photo: Song Xiaoyi/Caixin

The clinking of glasses was the only sound to be heard at Silence cafe in Beijing on a recent Tuesday.

It was around 7 p.m., in the midst of the cafe’s regular silent hours. “No talk!” proclaimed the chalkboard in the corner that listed the times when speaking was forbidden. On the walls, cartoon illustrations demonstrated how to sign phrases such as “What would you like to drink?” and “Check, please” in Chinese Sign Language (CSL).

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