Inclusive culture through coffee | IS THIS HOW STRANGERS REALLY VIEW ME? #3
Sejin Bae is from Seoul, Korea and now lives in New Zealand with her fiancée. As a Deaf person, Sejin’s first language is New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). She is a talented and passionate barista who works at Stuff’s Coffee CO-OP which employs deaf baristas. The Coffee CO-OP, based in the Auckland office, was spearheaded by Annamarie Jamieson, People & Culture Director of Stuff. The staff were trained by Claire Matheson of Coffee Educators. In the CO-OP’s opening week, Stuff’s deaf baristas taught 350 staff how to use basic sign language. The Stuff Coffee CO-OP and the work of Coffee Educators is an optimum example of making space to ensure and enable the success and leadership of people who live with disabilities.
“I’d say to people wanting to learn NZSL that the alphabet is best because if you want to know the sign for a word, you can spell it to me in sign language and I’d help teach the word in sign, and build your sign language vocab. For people who are keen to learn more in their own time, it would be useful to download the NZSL Dictionary app on your phone.
Working at the Stuff Coffee CO-OP and seeing other people want to learn how to sign makes me feel more motivated to teach people my language. It surprised me to find that I could work there without communication barriers. There were already posters and brochures there with sign languages for people to learn.
It means a lot to work in an organisation where the culture is inclusive and doesn’t make you feel self-conscious, they encourage you to do well and want to communicate with you.
This is amazing because often people think that because I can’t hear, I can’t talk. A lot of people didn’t think I’d be suitable to make coffee or be a barista because I can’t hear or communicate.
You don’t need to hear to make coffee and you don’t need to hear to communicate, people just need to be willing and patient.
If every person would be willing to break down their own views and accept, respect and authentically embrace the different abilities and cultures of others it would be much easier for me to navigate the world and for deaf people to work and find success.
I believe, being actively aware and willing to learn how to accommodate other people’s access needs is important every day for everyone.”