When eDeaf was established in 2007 the goal from both Nazreen Captieux-Bhana and Jesse Kotze was clear – How can we help Deaf people to Empower themselves? By Employing and Empowering the Deaf community through training and education, could we make a real difference and assist with employment that integrates the Deaf community into the very fabric of society? eDeaf began by embarking on achieving and empowering social change and paved the way to change the perceptions of what is known about Deafness. Through our partnered solutions approach eDeaf strives to produce students who have the relevant skills and training needed, are of the highest standards and have the ability to do the job.
One of the most successful partnerships for the Deaf community was that of Shoprite Checkers and eDeaf. As a company and brand, Shoprite should be lauded for being the first Wholesale and Retail group in South Africa to actively promote the learning, development and placement of Deaf individuals. As early as 2008, Shoprite Checkers embarked on a “Decade of the Deaf” programme which, in conjunction with eDeaf as the accredited training provider, enrolled 1,000 learners, in a NQF Level 2 qualification, in Wholesale and Retail.
From the Deaf community’s perspective this has meant that the competent learners, are now being given the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills for employment and exposure to the working world from what was always previously an “economically inactive” group in society. In addition to the training, a number of Deaf sensitization courses have taken place throughout the Shoprite Checkers group and has aided in helping to overcome both perceived and practical barriers of hiring a Deaf staff member. eDeaf provided a holistic service which supports both the company and the individual to ensure seamless integration. Fears or misconceptions are often completely unfounded and the best news is that a number of the hearing staff of Shoprite Checkers are now able to communicate in basic SASL through regular interactions with their Deaf colleagues. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and posters are placed within the stores to show customers how to sign certain words, this has lead to the Deaf community in these stores being an active part of the societal fabric, and not an outsider with no means of interaction.
The programme has been immensely successful due to the valuable partnered solutions approach adopted by both companies, as well as the passion and tenacity shown by the Deaf learners who have been given a chance to prove themselves as competent, capable and ready to work. This passion has not been overlooked by the Shoprite Group Head office either – One of the eDeaf learners Tobias Shozi is now an assistant baker at the Chatsworth, KZN store and is a shining example to many of just what can be achieved.
To see more about Tobias’ journey go to: http://edeaf.co.za/tobiass-story/
Philemon Lempe, another permanently placed Deaf staff member has recently been selected to participate in a Management Training programme.