deafness in catering | Modern restaurant management


Although not related to products, our team is involved in catering and having a child working in the industry, I learn ideas that go beyond the products. Over the past several years this includes the challenges that a deaf / hard of hearing person encounters in catering with the progression of my daughter’s hearing loss. We hope that by sharing these challenges, our industries can glean ideas so that they can be more inclusive for talent within the Deaf community and provide opportunities.

Even though we all want to support and advocate for people with disabilities, it’s hard to really know the challenges they face until you or someone close to you confront them. A few years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with an immune disease that slowly destroys the soft tissues in her body, including the tissues in the ears necessary for hearing. Not only does she navigate adult life in general, but she does so in addition to suffering from hearing loss. It gave our family the unique idea of ​​seeing the challenges a Deaf / Hard of Hearing person faces in the restaurant business as they are currently working as a barista at a national coffee shop chain.

Having the ability to see the past handicap to an individual’s unique talents and contributions and place them accordingly adds value to any restaurant or cafe.

With labor shortages in food service, reaching out to the disability community is a win-win solution; people eager to work and a catering company finding latent talent. Additionally, people with disabilities have a level of courage and creativity that they have mastered to fit into a world that was not designed for them.

For workers with disabilities, ensure that management and team members are not only aware of the disability, but support it as understanding and awareness of disability is essential to alleviate insensitivity and retain talent invaluable within the deaf community.

There are a few things to know about deafness:

  • Hearing loss is not all or nothing, but to varying degrees. Partial hearing loss can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to communicate or respond. This is called hard of hearing.
  • Hearing loss can be greater with certain ranges of sound frequencies. My daughter hears women’s voices more easily than men’s and therefore one person can be understood better than another.
  • It is always easier to communicate by SMS with a hearing-impaired person. They may avoid communicating over the phone or may limit who can communicate with them over the phone due to the tone and frequency range of the person’s voice.
  • Lip reading is essential. Knowing that you are near someone who is hard of hearing or deaf and making sure they can see your mouth will improve your communication with them. You might not even notice that they have a disability if you do this.
  • A person who has lost their hearing later will be able to pronounce words such as hearing people, and it may be difficult to notice that they cannot hear fully.
  • Someone with good pronunciation who is hard of hearing or deaf may try very hard to speak “normally” and not to curse words. Keep in mind that they may not get along completely, so you may notice this, or that they are making a conscious effort not to make mistakes in their speech.
  • You might think that a hearing aid or a cochlear implant would solve everything for a hard of hearing or deaf person. Hearing aids and implants can amplify sound, but it is not the same sound we hear and it is easier and less annoying to be without the device. In a noisy environment such as a restaurant, a hearing aid can be difficult to use.

One of the keys to inclusiveness with deafness is to make accommodations for a deaf / hard of hearing worker. It is important to understand that they may not be able to perform certain tasks like drive-thru, but place the worker where he can work. It may seem like an imposition on the employer, to have an employee who may not be fully capable of performing all the functions, but the point is that they bring their unique talents, their personality, their work ethic to the job. workplace, which enriches the team and the ecosystem. Having the ability to see the past handicap to an individual’s unique talents and contributions and place them accordingly adds value to any restaurant or cafe.


About Imogene T. Bishop

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