News story by Mohammad Al-Mutairi CAIRO, June 10 (KUNA) -- An Egyptian community in the sprawling capital Cairo is integrating people with disabilities into everyday life in an awe-inspiring tale that has set a precedent for such efforts.
At a fast food restaurant situated in the northwestern Cairo suburb of Sheikh Zayid, Sayid, a 51-year old deaf-mute man, takes orders with a broad smile etched on his face, a highly expressive gesture that goes a long way in his ability to communicate with customers from all walks of life.
Relying on a vast array of hand gestures to familiarize customers with the foods and beverages available on the menu, the father of three is not by his lonesome as he is joined by a full staff of fellow deaf-mutes who all tell a mesmerizing tale of inspiration coupled with determination in a bid to eke out a living.
Conspicuous by its presence is a large love symbol in sign language used to express any form of positive emotions, accompanied by a small message that in both the Arab and English languages that reads, "Society cares," which has become ubiquitous in the Egyptian capital.
On the purpose behind the initiative, Osama, the aforementioned restaurant's manager, described the effort as dating back some two decades, with the express goal of integrating the disabled community into the local job market, telling KUNA in an interview Sayid and his fellow staff members underwent extensive training before taking the job.
These initiatives, which are not limited to restaurants and have expanded to other retail stores, are tantamount to an "innovative experience" that has helped catapult the restaurant into fame, he said, while not overlooking the complexity of the task and simultaneously giving credit to Sayid and his fellow staff members for taking customers' orders in a seamless and smooth manner.
These endeavors are fully backed by Egypt's political leadership and general public alike, with the former introducing a raft of new legislations aiming to facilitate such initiatives that protect the rights of the disabled, while enabling them to contribute towards national development plans through following the example set by Sayid and his staff.
Commenting on the initiative, Rania and Sabreen, two college students in Cairo heaped praise on these efforts given the fact that a large chunk of the disabled community are people with families to provide for and are struggling to make ends meet given the soaring cost of living.
In 2018, Egypt passed a legislation that requires state bodies and businesses to have disabled individuals make up at least 5 percent of their total workforce, while those who refuse to do so face stiff penalties in line with the rule of law.
In a show of support for people with disabilities, particularly, the deaf-mute, the United Nations General Assembly has designated September 23 of each year as the "International Day of Sign Languages," in an initiative aiming to raise awareness about the importance of distinct forms of communication such as sign language.

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