AT THE end of April a unique café opened in Prievidza in which sign language is used as the normal means of communication. Three waitresses with hearing disabilities serve guests at the café: Erika Gyetvaiová and Jana Izáková, both in their 30s, and the café’s owner, Lucia Ďurkovičová who is 26. Ďurkovičová dreamed of owning her own café and managed to make her dream come true thanks to a grant, the help of her family, as well as from other supportive people. The café is named U dobrej šálky (At the Good Cup) according to the owner’s mother, Silvia Bošnovičová, the TASR newswire wrote.
When Ďurkovičová was 18 months old and attending nursery school, she suddenly stopped talking and reacting to words, TASR wrote. Doctors determined she had double-sided deafness due to damaged auditory nerves and her condition could not be improved through medical treatment. She attended a nursery and elementary school for hearing-impaired students in Kremnica, learned sign language, and also learned to speak almost normally. She studied at a regular secondary school and trained as a hairdresser but could not take up that career due to skin allergies.
Her mother said because Ďurkovičová is ambitious, strong-willed and determined in spite of her handicap she has held several jobs: she was the operator of the camera system for the police in Prievidza for three years and also worked as an organiser for the Deaflympics, the competition for those with hearing impairment that was to be held in Slovakia. But because of a financial scandal involving the main organiser of the Deaflympics, Ďurkovičová only received one month’s salary.
Inspired by a story on Czech TV about a café with deaf waitresses she started working hard to open a similar café in Slovakia, her mother told TASR.
It was not easy to find a suitable space for a café that would serve both hearing and hearing-impaired customers. The café’s test operation began on April 18 and the first customers were those who could hear but they were surprised to find out that they could order their beverages and food via five touchpad screens. The screens allow a customer to place an order and it is then translated into sign language. The next weekend hearing-impaired customers tested the café and were very satisfied.
Bošnovičová explained to TASR that the three waitresses with hearing disabilities cannot work alone but have an assistant who helps if necessary during orders or in solving possible problems and that task is handled by Ďurkovičová’s stepfather, Miroslav Bošnovič. A welcomed surprise during the April opening of the café was a performance by Slovak singer Miro Jaroš who simultaneously translated his song into sign language.
4. Jun 2012 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská