A LOCAL community café has been shortlisted for a high profile national award by UK charity and leading awarding body in deaf communications, Signature.

Exeter’s Café 55 has been named as one of four contenders in the Community Spirit category at the 2014 Signature Annual Awards.

The awards honour individuals, organisations and community groups that are striving to break down the barriers of communication between deaf and hearing people.

The public will choose the winner of the Community Spirit category, and Signature is urging people to go online to cast their vote.

Café 55, which opened in 2010, offers people with sight and hearing difficulties - as well as other disabilities - the chance to gain work experience within the catering industry.

The café encourages patrons to place their orders using British Sign Language (BSL). Large posters featuring BSL words such as ‘welcome’, ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’ and menus printed in Braille allow deafblind customers to order with ease.

Jane Tucker, café manager and volunteer coordinator, said: “Everyone at Café 55 is absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for this award – it’s a huge honour.

“The project has really taken off over the past few months; we’ve recently extended our opening hours from three to six days a week so that we can offer more volunteer hours and placements.”

Jim Edwards, Signature chief executive, said: “I’d like to commend everyone involved in Café 55 - they are making a real difference in the community by offering valuable work experience and thoroughly deserve to be on the shortlist.

“It’s now down to the local community to rally behind them in the public vote.”

Café 55 will join shortlisted entrants in categories such as Organisational Achievement, Teacher of the Year, Learner of the Year, Young Learner of the Year, Centre of the Year and Communication Professional of the Year.

For more information and to place your vote, visit: http://signatureannualawards.org.uk/you-decide