Road tripping? Keep these spots in mind.
The landmark Americans with Disabilities Act improved equity and access to employment, public accommodations, services, and so much more for people living with diverse challenges, including hearing loss.
Some businesses, however, go above and beyond being simply “ADA restaurants” and ensure a better experience for patrons with hearing or speech difficulties.
For your summer travels, we’ve put together a quick list of restaurants that go the extra mile to put the “c” in “communication.” Keep them in mind as you plan your next road trip!
- Molly Moon’s – Seattle, WA
This popular ice cream stop with several Seattle-area locations — Rhubarb cardamom sorbet, anyone? — includes employees trained in American Sign Language, according to a KOMO News story, creating a more inclusive, welcoming experience.
- Pah! — Portland, OR
Introducing Portland’s first proudly deaf-owned restaurant! Opened in June 2022, Pah! “aims to bring together deaf culture with the hearing world.” All their menu items are named after slang words in ASL, including the word “Pah!” — it means “finally!”
- Crêpe Crazy — Austin, TX
The deaf owners of this growing business not only rock sweet and savory crepes —caprese, Mediterranean medley, lemon zest dust, and more — but offer easy ordering with sign language or pointing. They also make it a point to hire community members with hearing loss.
- Starbucks — Washington, D.C.
Starbucks opened its first Signing Store in Washington, D.C., and they have several now throughout the U.S. and Asia. Signing Stores employ and provide accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, and all employees are required to be proficient in ASL.
- Mozzeria — San Francisco, CA
Whether you’re ASL-fluent or not, you’re welcome at this pizza-and-more spot owned by a deaf couple and staffed with deaf or hard-of-hearing employees. Options for easy ordering include pen and paper, pointing, and sign language.
- Tatsu Ramen — Los Angeles, CA
Have you tried a ramen burger? Tatsu offers that and so much more. When you walk into Tatsu Ramen in the bustling shopping district on Melrose Avenue, you’re greeted with a screen where you can order and pay. Bonus — this means the usually long line moves quickly.
- Culver’s — Buffalo Grove, IL
This local outlet of a national burgers-and-frozen custards franchise installed a bell system at its drive-thru, letting deaf or hard-of-hearing customers alert staff if they need to pull forward and order using a menu form instead.
- A&W — Montreal, QC
Making fast food faster, A&W was the first quick-service restaurant chain in Canada to offer customers self-order kiosks. Located at the front of the restaurant, customers can use their debit or credit cards for self-service and bypass the line. A root beer float? Yes, please!
- Dal’s Poke — Langley, BC
Dal’s Poke (pronounced: poh-kay) serves up fresh Hawaiian Poke bowls. Founder Dal was born Deaf and doesn’t let it stop him from pursuing his passion for cooking. Dal’s experience as a sushi chef shows in the quality of his Poke. As they say in Hawaii, “Komo I ka” — enjoy!
Did You Know?
- A 2004 Inclusion Solutions survey regarding drive-thru dining access and assistance found that 42% of the 6,400 deaf or hard-of-hearing people surveyed have “left a drive-thru line in frustration because they were unable to communicate.”
- In the same survey, 94% percent of respondents “would visit a restaurant that put in a drive-thru system to improve access for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
Know a deaf-friendly restaurant or two that should be on this list? Send us your recommendations!