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HELPING HANDS: Bartender Leah Mackie has learned to sign bar-specific words, the alphabet and the lyrics to a few songs so she can communicate with her hearing-impaired patrons at H Street Country Club in Northeast. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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Student Ross Cooper signs with a friend at H Street Country Club. Bartenders have learned to sign bar basics, such as "beer" and "wine." Brighter lights make it easier to see sign language and read lips. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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Hearing-impaired friends (from left) Michael Baker, Kenny Berrigan, Chris Kearney and Alicia Balzer hang out at H Street Country Club. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)