Ciro Coffee Academy Helping To Uplift Deaf Youth

There are an estimated two million deaf/hard of hearing people in South Africa. And 70% of them are unemployed. This shocking statistic won’t change unless our society is prepared to uplift, train and hire deaf people.

One company has been making huge strides in all three: Ciro, which launched the Ciro Coffee Academy, six years ago. With a ‘passion for training and skills upliftment’, 50 deaf candidates have been employed at Ciro’s partner employers. Altogether 6000 people have qualified at the academy, some of whom have won awards locally and internationally.
“CCA alumni also include previously disadvantaged and deaf individuals who have received skills training through the Ciro Barista Upliftment Programme (BUP),” says Lani Snyman, customer services executive for the Ciro Coffee Academy.

Snyman emphasised how much we all rely on our hearing and how difficult the world is to negotiate without being able to hear.  Hosting the Deaf awareness day at CCA, Snyman presented the 10 young baristas who are all currently employed, and who will all be competing at the Coffee & Chocolate expo for the Ciro Deaf Barista Champion for 2019 title. They spoke about their journey to qualifying as baristas.

The young baristas took to the floor with great enthusiasm and gave inspiring and eloquent speeches. One barista, Layla, made an interesting point saying the hearing and non hearing worlds need to bridge the gap. In the hearing world – the deaf are excluded, while in the non hearing world – the hearing cannot understand sign language. Many baristas spoke of a passion for coffee and how learning this skill had completely changed and improved their lives.

Snyman implored the public to take on deaf baristas as not only will it help with the upskilling and the employment rate of the deaf, but also because it is a mutally rich learning experience for both the hearing and non hearing to embark on.

“The Ciro Coffee Academy itself began training Deaf learners around six years ago and not only consistently promotes these people within the barista community, but now also offers a new short course in barista skills introduced by Unisa, as part of its curriculum. Up until now, more than 50 Deaf candidates have successfully been placed at partner employers,” she says, adding that these are all successful professionals and serve as a great example to encourage more members of the coffee community to employ Deaf baristas in their own establishments.

“Two years ago, CCA introduced the competition and joined forces with Hearing Works Coffee & Chocolate Show, eDeaf, Unisa and Coffee Mag to make this special event happen.

The goal of the Academy, says Snyman, ‘is to give hearing impaired baristas the opportunity to carve out a career in the coffee industry, with the competition designed to highlight their skills. “Although any Deaf barista may compete, the current crop of competitors are all past and present Ciro Barista Trainees, and they will be judged on their performance and ability in preparing two cappuccinos and two espresso coffees’.

Hearing Works’ Tally Sherban, says they have been taking ‘great measures to educate and bring awareness to previously disadvantaged communities around the subject of hearing loss and preventative measures.


She says that hearing impairment should not negatively affect your chances of a good career. “Perhaps even more crucially, we want them to realise that deaf people are just as capable and effective in their jobs as any other human being,” she says.

Also a sponsor and supporter is Vision Works, and both Hearing Works and Vision Works offer R90 eye and hearing tests for those without medical aid and who cannot afford the going rate. “We understand that when it comes to hearing care – one size does not fit all, that essential ongoing support and aftercare is vital and that not all South Africans have access to medical aid.

The Coffee & Chocolate Africa Expo is supporting #ActionAgainstPoverty during the month of Mandela Day, with the Ciro Deaf Barista Competition and challenged corporates to match the prizes of R3000, R2000 and R1000. At the expo 10 very skilled Deaf baristas will be competing for the title on July 27, at the Ticketpro Dome, at 10h00. For more information, please contact the Ciro Coffee Academy on (011) 287 6700 or visit Ciro Coffee Academy Training

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