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Deaf communities set to enter hospitality industry

People with hearing impairment may soon acquire a new skill that will unlock their potential to work and run their own coffee shops. This was revealed during a Unisa Employee Disability Forum (UEDF) meeting held on 23 March 2017.

Members attending the Unisa Employee Disability Forum (UEDF) meeting on 23 March 2017

Speaking during the meeting, Dr Tertia van Eeden said that barista skills are in great demand in the hospitality industry and the development of barista skills course for deaf students would pave a way for people with hearing impairment to venture into the industry.

Sign Language: “coffee” The sign for coffee: Think of the movement of an old coffee grinder. The bottom hand stays still while the top hand turns the crank.

“The purpose of the course is to empower deaf communities for business, provide individuals with the opportunity for creative expression, and develop barista skills and training towards entrepreneurship and job placement,” she said.

She said the need to empower deaf communities for business has resulted in the registration of a short learning programme for baristas with sign language, which will allow people with interest to enrol.

The practical component of the course will be conducted at the Ciro Coffee Academy. Thandiwe Matsose, one of the few students who recently trained as a barista, is currently on  three-month internship with the academy. Van Eeden said the internship was a pilot programme and they are now looking into the possibilities of finding her permanent employment. Speaking through an interpreter, Matsose said she is grateful for the opportunity and she loves making coffee.

The training will make it possible for customers to engage verbally as well as visually with deaf baristas and also learn a rudimentary South African Sign Language.

The UEDF was founded in 2011 with a view to identify and address issues that affect staff with disabilities. Its role includes playing an advisory role within the structures of the university.
The forum also serve as platform to allow staff with disabilities to voice their concerns. However, the membership is not limited to staff with disabilities.

*By Percy Mthombeni