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Thursday, May 19 2022
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Echoes: Voicing the voiceless

Can you imagine a restaurant full of deaf and mute staff that would provide service to you? Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Echoes Living Room is a reflection on that question. Founded by Sahib Sarna, an MBA graduate, Shivansh Kanwar, and Sahil Gulati, two graduates from Bsc. HM, Delhi, Echoes Living Room began its operations in 2019. Situated in Delhi and Hyderabad, Echoes Living Room birthed and walked with a vision of creating opportunities for the deaf and the mute sections of the society.

As the name suggests, Echoes conveys the concept ironically, about a space being run by deaf and mute folks, while a ‘living room’ provides an idea of comfort and ease.

Echoes: One of a kind

In conversation about the concept of Echoes Living Room, the founders said, “it strives to initiate a healthy conversation around the deaf and mute community and in the process, create a unique dining experience in a judgement-free environment.”

With a mission to create a casual premium cafe/diner for guests to come and experience a great time, comfort food and get a sense of being socially responsible at the same time, the brand envisions a fast casual Bistro/diner space. It intends to be a brand that generates employment for a deaf and mute section of the society and motivates all the different communities to acknowledge, understand and work in harmony with each other.

Imagine searching and recruiting deaf and mute employees. It sounds like a task, doesn’t it? Speaking of certain difficulties they faced in the process of implementing Echoes Living Room, they asserted that they had a hard time convincing people that a restaurant can be run completely by deaf and mute employees. Hence, interaction is the key element. “Training SOPs’, creating different situations about things that could happen in a fast-casual environment was a challenge in the start but with time and most importantly working patiently helped us move past that,” they added.

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Social media: a great tool

Social media can help gain attention, audience, and potential customers, but for Echoes Living Room, it helped reach the masses and acknowledge the vitality of developing something for the specially abled sections of the society.

“It helped let everyone know about the movement we are trying to create, where the different sections of society get the stage to be at par with any and everyone. Customers are positive about this whole aura and experience,” the founders contended.

What inspired Echoes Living Room?

The founders answered, “the inspiration was to stir the space with something which is positive and adds on to experience in addition to great food & drinks. We wanted to create a space for the deaf and mute folks and motivate different sections of the society to do their bit for the differently-abled.”

The role of sign language

Speaking on the modes of communication with the deaf and mute employees, the founders affirmed that sign language plays a pivotal role in the whole process. However, they are more focused on the idea and implementation of inclusivity, where the people are taken seriously and understand that everyone can make a big difference if given a chance because the block is in the mind’s thought process.

In conversation about the staff, the founders proudly claimed that being a very close-knitted community, the existing team plays a significant role in hiring. “However, the major thing lies in the whole training process and module approach that we follow to make each staff learn the system we need to place out,” they added.

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Future endeavors

Echoes Living Room is established only in Delhi and Hyderabad. Hence, the founders disclosed that they’re looking at avenues, more franchises, and funding to open in more cities and across the country. They are also focusing on hiring & training the differently-abled staff in different roles like Barista, Kitchen, and so on, not limiting their roles to just servers or floor managers. This positively boosts their confidence and morale and gives them new horizons to learn. “We would love more people to come and join us, invest in whatever way they can, and create an environment that can change the lives of differently-abled people,” the founders signed off with this thought.

Siri Shekar

The author is a student reporter who is also pursuing Psychology and English Literature. A wanderer searching for faces that inspire an optimistic place about the world, she hunts for different human experiences, not just leads for a story.

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