Shoprite Checkers were the first Wholesale and Retail group in South Africa to actively promote the learning, development and placement of Deaf individuals. Shoprite Checkers embarked on a “Decade of the Deaf” programme in 2008 in conjunction with accredited training provider, eDeaf (Employ and Empower Deaf) together we have trained over 700 learners through an NQF Level 2 qualification in Wholesale and Retail.
Young Deaf people, who were previously part of the “economically inactive” group, are now being given the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills for employment and exposure to the working world.
Deaf sensitization is of course imperative and deemed as reasonable accommodation to overcome both perceived and practical barriers. eDeaf provide a holistic service which supports both the company and the individual to ensure seamless integration. Fears or misconceptions are often completely unfounded and a number of Shoprite Checkers (hearing) staff are now able to communicate in basic SASL through regular interactions with their colleagues. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and posters are placed within the stores to show customers how to sign certain words
Training of the Deaf learners is conducted in South African Sign Language through skilled Deaf facilitators. This method of teaching has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the learners as they are acquiring knowledge in their mother tongue.
The programme has been immensely successful due to the valuable partnership of both companies, as well as the passion shown by young Deaf people who are finally getting a chance to prove themselves as competent, capable and ready to work!
Mint Management Technologies
eDeaf Learners geared and eager to make a difference in the world of IT.
eDeaf offers several training courses and learnership programs to empower deaf communities for business and Mint has identified the facility as one of its preferred programmes to form part of its social responsibility arm DotUnity.
“From our experience with learners at the eDeaf facility we know first-hand the skills, drive and knowledge that these learners comprise and the difference they can make in organisations. Therefore, we aim to e deaf community, owing to a lack of understanding around the deaf culture as well as the communication adaptation needed to see to their needs.
Clark explains, however, that many large-to-medium enterprises have resources and infrastructure available to facilitate hard-of hearing employees. “Some South African companies are also currently running programs to expose employees to sign language in order for them to assist deaf clients.”
Shoprite Group’s Decade of the Deaf project in partnership with eDeaf is another example of an organisation making a difference. The group provided 400 jobs to the hearing-impaired in 2015 and aims to create a 1000 within a 10-year period.
Drawing from this inspiration, Clark notes that the IT community needs to form part of these initiatives and employ and empower the hearing-impaired. “We can gain so much insight and innovation from the deaf community and need to collaborate and encourage empowerment initiatives.”
Deaf community eager to make a difference in IT
During Mint’s site visit to eDeaf, students emphasised that the IT industry is very accessible to the deaf community as they use their eyes to work. They also shared stories of how their interest in IT came about, the contributions they wish to make, and how the eDeaf centre has provided them with the courage to believe in themselves.
To further encourage job creation and innovation for the deaf community, Mint challenged the students to invent or recommend a technological innovation that would change the way deaf people can work and integrate into organisations.
“We, together with the IT industry, want to learn from these students, see how they view the world of technology and identify innovations that would enable them to enjoy quality employment. Together we need to educate, empower and employ the deaf community.”
Whatever hearing people can do in the world of technology, the hearing-impaired can do too, stated eDeaf learner Thabo Mokewena on August 23, 2016 during a visit from Microsoft Gold Partner Mint Management Technologies to the deaf-empowerment facility in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
This statement reflects the striking contributions that have been made by the deaf community across fields and industries, notes Mint HR Executive Lauren Clark.
The inspiration, drive and eagerness to learn that drove many successful hearing-impaired people to achieve greatness was evident in the learners of the eDeaf community during Mint’s recent site visit. Both Mint’s IT Manager Riaan Strydom and Quality and Architecture Delivery Discipline Head Oliver Smit provided learners with a glimpse into the life of an IT professional as well as the innovation and changes taking place in the industry.
“Mint supports a funded learnership at the eDeaf facility with ten learners through both knowledge sharing and financial assistance, thereby, enabling them to build their careers and gain exposure to the various career possibilities in IT,” states Clark
Luke Jevon, Technical Training Manager, Smiths Manufacturing
Our work with eDEAf has exceeded our expectations for service and flexibility. Sanele was very patient with our sign language lessons. His positive and approachable attitude helped to turn learning a new language into a fun experience. Shubnum is very passionate, dedicated and encourages our learners on the AET Learnership. What I appreciate about working with the team is their enthusiasm, friendliness and quality of work.
Department of Health
The South African Sign Language (SASL) training is critical to KZN Department of Health personnel, including front line staff to to improve access to health services and compliance to universal design in that all patients will be well catered for irrespective of their impairment. Part of our communities are Deaf and or are having hearing and speech impairment which makes it difficult to communicate their ailments when they visit our health facilities. This also tempers with their confidentiality when they need interpreting services. Training doctors, nurses, etc. will improve access to health services to such patients and they will also be able to maintain confidentiality as no middle man will be required.
eDeaf has indeed added great value to the Department in that health workers who have already attended basic South African Sign Language commended the facilitators for the way they made to understand SASL communication. Those who attended can now construct few sentences using sign language, like greetings and indicating some ailments. However, their inputs was that they would like to attend refresher course so that they can get more understanding and that they also don’t forget the language. The KZN MEC for Health also commended the training provider for the job well done.
It should be noted that South African Sign Language is a language with its grammatical structure influenced by cultural practice. It is therefore important that training of this nature takes cognisance of this fact.
ITQ Business Solutions
I was introduced to eDeaf for the first time in December 2012 when I was invited by Nazreen (CEO) and Jesse (COO) to visit their training facility in Braamfontein. The ITQ Business Solutions group of companies were looking for an accredited training provider to partner with to run learnerships for previously disadvantaged groups of people. The initial plan was to run a learnership with at least 10 deaf learners.
Currently for the 2015/2016 skills period we have no less than 90 registered learners based at eDeaf. Little did I realise the tremendous impact that first visit would have on our group of companies, both from a business perspective and on a more personal, emotional level. I was drawn by the warm, sincere welcome I received during that first visit, followed by a guided tour of the facility that left me in awe.
You cannot walk away from eDeaf and not be touched and inspired by the vision of both the staff and management of eDeaf.
In the years that followed a strong bond has been formed between the ITQ Business Solutions Group and eDeaf. eDeaf have become family, an extension of our company. A more honourable, hardworking, dedicated group of people I have yet to meet. eDeaf have shown me what it means to sincerely care about people. They are a beacon of light and hope to those who would otherwise have had no hope. We believe our continued relationship with eDeaf will be a life long journey as we watch and share in their growth.
Biddulphs Removals & Storage S.A.
To Whom It May Concern
This serves to confirm that this Company has had a long standing and ongoing relationship with eDeaf that dates back to 2007. During this time we have had numerous occasions when the assistance of eDeaf has been required and we have always found them to be willing and accommodating at all time.
Woolworths Maxmead DC
Being exposed to deaf environment can be an overwhelming experience. Working with the team (eDeaf Durban) has been a privilege as they have assisted me in understanding deaf society. Our monthly sessions approach with our team and them were family orientated, guidance given by eDeaf on how things are perceived by our Deaf Employees helped in making the team want to achieve towards the same goals.
The eDeaf team even conducted a free Deaf Sensitisation awareness session to all able employees on the 01 September (Casual Day). The session was meant to address all perceived and the unknown, History of Deaf Employment, how to interact with them with respect.
Their time spent with our Deaf team has increased the level of responsibility, professionalism and commitment.
Working with eDeaf team (KZN) has been an experience of a lifetime. Their passion in supporting and motivating disabled people to be responsible, Deaf culture that has a lot to offer in the society if they strive for the best.