Starting up a business is difficult, finding good help is tough, being able to find support in the community should not be on the list of difficult parts of the venture of owning a new business but it is. Often there are pings of jealousy by others that didn’t think of the business first or the idea first. They might get upset because they aren’t going to profit off the idea or think the business is taking advantage of the community.

While it is true that new businesses are “capitalizing” off the economy of this particular community and culture. There are some difficult practices where people don’t appreciate it when a hearing person takes something and uses it to capitalize off the community. Some points that had been brought up included the idea of thanking interpreters for their hard work. 

While thanking teachers and people of various jobs is a common practice, people started questioning the idea of why it would be necessary to thank individuals that make money off this culture and the language. Yes, the idea is that these people make it possible to link our people to the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean they should be thanked. They are making money and a living off the language. So, if people go out of their way to thank interpreters and point out what they’ve done to make the person’s life easier; why aren’t people going out of their way to recognize people that pave the way for the community as a whole? 
Either, a deaf-owned business is boring and uninteresting or it’s something that raises the risk of seeing somebody else succeed before anybody else. There is only one life granted to people, why is there so much jealousy or so much anger towards each other in this community? A perfect example of this is: people went out of their way to share an article talking about a hearing person’s business that focuses on employing people that use ASL to communicate. While this is a hearing person’s business and they are capitalizing off this community, there have been more rants and more “oooo” and “ahhhh’s” from people about how amazing this and it is not even open yet. 
Mozzeria has gone up and beyond a basic local pizza joint expectation and employs deaf people and there have been more international attention and raves about “Sign” than there has been about Mozzeria as of lately. The worst part is this, it is being called a “Deaf restaurant” when it’s owned by a hearing person and only some of their employees are deaf. Why is this okay and why is it not okay to help companies such as Mozzeria rise up and beyond in the media by pushing for more news about them and focusing on the success of the business. 

There’s nothing impressive about being a deaf-owned business, there’s nothing impressive about hiring some deaf people. People are people and they are normal. If the business is a huge success, that’s when it’s impressive. There’s everything wrong and disturbing about a company calling its business a “Deaf Restaurant” when they are not. The only thing “Deaf” about it is the people that they hire who happen to fall into that category. Signing is not necessarily a “Deaf” thing but is a visual language so if that is their argument, it is moot. 

Thanking an interpreter would be much more appropriate than supporting the idea of a hearing person who happened to have a deaf customer come into a restaurant and communicate with them in sign language and decides to set up a restaurant that uses sign only. An interpreter uses their skill to give back to the community while in the case of “Signs” it is taking advantage of the community in a way that does not benefit many community members. While there is nothing the community can do, they can discourage this kind of behavior. Focus on supporting deaf-owned businesses and encouraging the growth of the community economy. While this isn’t as bad as a white man capitalizing off a bad name for Native Americans for a football team, it is still a controversial situation that needs to be put to bed in a way that benefits this community.

Written by Mary Pat Withem
Follow her on Twitter @mpwithem