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MEC Nota Bene enables deaf students for business

MEC Nota Bene has partnered with eDEAF, to sponsor and oversee the education of three new students at the school. As a communications agency, MEC specialises in media strategy, which means choosing the correct media channels so the right message reaches the right target market. In the same way, MEC through its CSI initiatives, strives to assist people who require training to enhance the way they communicate with the world. MEC’s motto is Don’t just live, thrive! – and in this spirit, MEC partnered with eDEAF to make a significant change to the lives of three students through the sponsorship of their training. Said Kathleen Fisher, HR Head at MEC, ‘The Deaf community is one of the most marginalised in our country, so our vison for these students is to enable them to achieve the skills and independence to enter the business world.’

eDEAF has been empowering Deaf communities since 2007 through highly effective training courses and learnership programs which have been widely received by Deaf people from all walks of life. The organisation has state-of- the-art training facilities in Johannesburg, Centurion and Durban with a passionate team comprised of 25 Deaf and 5 hearing employees, providing the ideal learning environments for Deaf individuals. According to Nazereen Bhana, executive member at eDEAF, due to the lack of language exposure during children’s critical developmental stages they tend to have a number of barriers to learning in addition to their deafness. She said, ‘Many deaf children start school with little or no ability to communicate effectively. As a result, their situations pose a range of unique learning challenges. Because of the fact that they cannot communicate freely with the hearing world, they are often regarded as incompetent or not intelligent, and not fit to be employed. However, this is far from the truth.’

eDEAF specialises in Adult Education & Training, South African Sign Language Training, Deaf Culture Sensitisation Training, Bridging Program (in development), Wholesale & Retail Operations Training and Deaf Interpreting and Consulting Services. The school uses a variety of visual means to teach their deaf students South African Sign Language (SASL) as well as reading and writing in English and Afrikaans. In addition to educating their students and finding them suitable employment, eDEAF also provide Deaf Culture Sensitisation training aimed at Deaf workers, their colleagues, supervisors and management, in order to bridge the communication gap between all participants.

Several local companies have taken the brave step of employing Deaf persons with great success, proving that in some career fields the Deaf can be just as good as or even better than hearing employees. It is a documented fact that Deaf employees are more effective in certain disciplines due to the fact that they are not easily distracted. Two major areas of business proving to be particularly suited to Deaf employees are the retail and IT industries. Encouragingly South African companies in these industries are now welcoming a high intake of Deaf employees.

Said Kathleen Fisher, Human Resources Head at MEC, ‘We aim to empower these students through our sponsorship. Our vision for Jeffrey Molepo, Xolisile Mdletshe and Bazilia Chihau is to see them develop into well adjusted, independent, productive and self-sustaining individuals who are well prepared for the working world. We hope to make a measurable difference in their lives.’

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