Acting with Care for hearing-impaired and nonverbal colleagues

Acting with Care for hearing-impaired and nonverbal colleagues

Because actions speak louder than words

Led by ABB’s core values of Courage, Care, Curiosity and Collaboration, five employees of ABB Bulgaria – Rakovski branch successfully passed three months training of sign language.

A three-month training in beginner sign language was held from the end of November 2021 to the beginning of March 2022. The class was led by a deaf-mute trainer from the DEAFinitely Sign Language Academy, who used sign language to reveal a whole new world of communication to the company's employees.

Motivated by the desire to create equality among all employees, ABB approached the subject matter with care and respect. Now trained employees can facilitate communication with their hearing-impaired and nonverbal colleagues.

Five employees from different positions in the three ELSP, ELSB and ELDS divisions of Rakovski branch took part in the sign language training. Each of them has in their teams or works directly with deaf-mute colleagues.

"The first sign language training is part of our Diversity and Inclusion policy for all employees in our organization. Its aim is to encourage the availability of different groups of employees and to ensure that we provide equal opportunities for them. The aim of the training is to have more employees in the organization, with whom our colleagues with hearing and speech impairments can communicate freely, "said Viliana Bakalova, Business Partner Human Resources at the ELSP Division.

The duration of the Bulgarian Sign Language course was 10 weeks, during which the employees studied the basic gestures related to everyday life. Gestures include not only the movement of the hands, but also elements such as facial expressions, movements of the head and shoulders, which show types of phrases or different parts of sentences.

"Sign language is not easier to learn than spoken language, but it is very rich and expressive and also a lot of fun to learn," said Vanya Tarleva, Quality Manager at ELSB, who was one of the colleagues who took the course.

The training took the form of video lectures and many role-playing games. Tests were performed every two weeks to see whether students were ready for the next level. Upon successful completion of the course, employees can now have a conversation in a new language. Thus, they are able to help a person with hearing and speech impairments in need of direction or information or would give them the opportunity to make a new friendship.

“The only difference between a hearing and a non-hearing person is the language we use. We must emphasize that deaf people are not disabled people. They are like people from another country and to understand them - you just need to overcome the language barrier”, adds Nikolay Georgiev, ELDS Unit Supervisor.

The training ended with a final lesson in which trainers and the employees spoke freely through sign language. And for the final, a short celebration was organized for those who successfully passed the training with the participation of the Branch manager of the Rakovski branch, Ivan Vodentchev, who greeted the employees and presented them with special gifts and certificates.

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