Crawford wants more opportunities for the disabled

December 19, 2017
Okoye Henry photo Senator Damion Crawford (left) converses with (from second left) interpreter for the day, Brevinal Ross, Deaf Can Coffee beneficiary and Café Mocha barista Kevin Smith, and co-owner of Café Mocha Marlene Hacker. The event was a special sit down with the Senator to discuss the importance of businesses employing persons with disabilities.

Senator Damion Crawford, the opposition spokesman on youth, has endorsed an initiative by the Montego Bay-based Cafe Mocha to forge a partnership with Deaf Can Coffee, an organisation which trains persons with disabilities for various forms of employment.

Cafe Mocha has employed two deaf baristas (servers) to their team, a move Crawford has applauded, noting that he would like to see other companies following Cafe Mocha's lead in creating opportunities for disabled persons.

"Remember, you cannot predict what your child will be. There are two sides to every story ... I try to understand both sides," said Crawford. "If we had a policy where all Jamaicans are able to communicate using sign language, that would eliminate a major concern that most business owners have. It's no different from putting translators in more English-speaking centres, so that visitors can understand."

"I think a society's main responsibility is to ensure that its people are independent in whatever they can do," added Crawford.




Crawford went on to state that in order to ensure that more business owners take on the initiative of employing persons with disabilities, one step that could be taken is to teach sign language in schools so that the next generation will be able to communicate through that method.

The former government minister is also proposing that a particular decal (sign) be given to persons who employ the disabled, which will encourage persons to support those businesses.

Marlene Hacker, a co-owner of Cafe Mocha, says that the stigma that intimates that persons with disabilities are a liability to a business needs to be erased.

"Having a disability does not make you any less than anyone else. Many individuals with disabilities have been overlooked and just need a chance to shine," said Hacker. "We are hoping that by taking on this initiative of employing these individuals, it will spark more discussions and more action from other businesses to follow our lead."

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