San Rocco restaurant staff learn sign language to offer all-inclusive experience

STAFF and management at San Rocco are learning sign language as the Italian restaurant continues its mission to make eating out an all-inclusive experience.

It follows on from the eatery at Stamford Square, Ashton, earlier introducing special picture menus.

Stalybridge mother Nicola Sweeney, of Balderstone Road, Arlies, is a regular at San Rocco with her seven-year-old son Taylor, who suffers from autism.

She praised the restaurant and manager Mark Wain after they introduced a special picture menu which they put together with help from speech and language therapists.

Now, she is equally impressed at their commitment to the special needs community after adding sign language to their pool of talents.

Nicola said: “Mark is a wonderful man. Nothing is too much trouble for him and what he is doing for the deaf community with the sign language is wonderful.

“We were having a talk just before Christmas and he told me how he’d started to notice that a lot of people who came in with disabilities were using a degree of sign language to communicate.

“He wants to make the experience of eating out an inclusive activity to as many people as possible, so when he said he was thinking about learning some basic skills I thought it’d be amazing.

“Even just a few basic level signs like greetings can make a massive difference and it makes the experience of eating out a much more inclusive activity for people with hearing impediments.

“My friend Tracey Hampson is a sign language interpreter who used to work at my son’s school and when I put the idea to her she thought it was marvellous.”

Staff at the restaurant had their first basic sign language session with Tracey just before Christmas, where they learned basic greetings and signs for popular food and drink on their menu.

Mark was so enthralled by the experience, as were his staff, that he signed himself up for basic level one training in sign language.

Nicola continued: “Tracey left some sheets behind for the waiters, waitresses and all the other staff because they took to it so well and really enjoyed it.

“I’ve said to Mark before about how wonderful I think what he’s doing is, but his response was that he feels it’s something that should be as standard.

“I still tell him how fantastic it is though. There are people who go to that San Rocco who would never have dreamt of going out to eat because of the stigma they face for their conditions.

“But Mark has taken the stigma out of their experience and made his restaurant receptive to anyone and everyone in the community.”

Please note: due to government advice during the coronavirus outbreak, San Rocco is currently closed until further notice.

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