Creating A Fulfilling Life For Deaf  

The Changi Airport store FairPrice's Finest is well known for a man that carries a notepad along wherever he goes. He scribbles down various items on the notepad, while he moves between different aisles, checking the products and looing through them. However, he is not at the supermarket to shop for himself. Mr. Louis Chua is an employee of the supermarket – their first deaf and mute one.

With the aid of the notepad, Mr. Chua is better able to interact with the customers that come to supermarket and help them in their shopping. He finds various ways to communicate with the people he works with, including basic hand gestures and simple sign language. This has been his way of life for close to thirty years, rising up the ladder the FairPrice shop.
Louis Chua began his journey at the age of 22, and has been working with the supermarket ever since. He is a store assistant and is beloved by the customers that come in to shop. Most of the regulars are familiar with him and often gravitate towards him when they need help. This reflects in his attitude with colleagues as well, who learn from his positive attitude and work ethics.
The store manager, Mr. Philip Ang, praises Mr. Chua, noting that he often walks with the customers and delivers their bags till the departure areas. He was even featured in a video on the FairPrice Facebook page, which was rapidly shared and viewed by people around the world. Taking note of his work, Mr. Chua was interviewed about his life at the supermarket and he opened up about it in a candid manner.
He notes that the start of work life was marked with hesitation, as communication was not easy with co-workers and customers both. He worried that they would not understand the interaction and cause problems in working. However, he now feels that the work he has been doing is an experience of a lifetime and there are no regrets. Mr. Chua is fond of meeting the locals and the tourists that come to the Changi Airport.
One of his well-known local customers is Ms. Priscilla Chew. She has been shopping at the FairPrice market for close to a year now and has become friends with Mr. Chua. She notes that he approaches each customer with a big smile and a friendly attitude, determined to help them out in any way possible. She makes it a point to meet him whenever she goes for shopping, in part to experience his service.
Louis Chua handles housekeeping, stocking of goods and customer service at the supermarket. He has worked hard to reach his position in life. Part of the journey has been the happiness of the customers and their compliments regarding his work. Moments when customers appreciate his out-of-the-way help in their shopping are of great importance to Mr. Chua.
While he was born with hearing, a subsequent bout of fever at the age of one left him deaf. He enrolled in the Singapore School for the Deaf to and become proficient at sign language after nine years of study. Currently, he resides with his brother and sister at their home in Little India. His siblings are more than supportive of his career, and are proud of his efforts.
His sister admits that there were reasons to be apprehensive when Mr. Chua was first offered the job. She was unsure about his communication skills when it came to customer interaction. These days, she feels a sense of relief and happiness when his work is highlighted and praised by others.
The director of the Singapore Association for the Deaf has noticed Mr. Chua. Ms. Sylvia Teng notes that his long lasting employment and loyal work ethic is laudable, as are the relationships he builds with others. The loyalty and commitment he has shown is what sets him apart from the others.
Louis Chua notes that it takes patience to work alongside deaf people, but it is not impossible. He fees that the support of coworkers and customers has had a lot to do with his success in life as well. Either way, Mr. Chua is a constant fixture at the FairPrice supermarket and continues to make the people around him smile.
Employment Support For Deaf Individuals
Ms. Teng notes that deaf individuals are easily employable in varied careers, but find it hard to gain initial employment. There are far too many employers that do not provide basic facilities for the deaf employees, such as communicating via notes and sign language. This hampers their career growth, making it difficult for them to reach better positions. She says that employers must be sensitized on the issue and learn how to work alongside differently-abled people.
Furthermore, she offers methods of interaction in a professional setup with deaf people. The best way to move forward is to reiterate instructions by noting them down and showing it to them. Ask them if there is any issue or if they need anything at all. For employers, having a sign language facilitation workshop is a must. Engaging with deaf people requires patience, but more importantly, respect.
 
NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd was founded by the labour movement in 1973, with a social mission to moderate the cost of living in Singapore. From one supermarket, it has grown to become Singapore's largest retailer serving over half a million shoppers daily, with a network of over 130 outlets, comprising FairPrice supermarkets, FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra. Its convenience arm comprises a network of over 160 FairPrice Xpress and Cheers convenience stores, which serves over 100,000 customers daily. FairPrice Online caters to over 115,000 subscribers offering a hassle-free online shopping experience. NTUC FairPrice also owns a Fresh Food Distribution Centre and a centralised warehousing and distribution company.
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