This story is part of a package on "Disability in Japan". The introduction is here.

One morning recently, a man dressed in a business suit dropped by a coffee shop in a high-rise office building in the suburbs of Yokohama and ordered a short-size latte.

The young female clerk at the counter repeated the order, and turned to Mariko Shimura, a petite woman with two pigtails and a big smile, while making an "L" shape with her thumb and index finger to signal "latte." Then she stuck out three fingers in a sign the two women had adopted to mean "short." Shimura hurried off to make the drink, then handed it to the customer.