Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Cairo, Egypt KFC is one-up on the USA

Frank has so many things to say that it can't be contained in just one blog. Not too long ago, he started up his second blog, Red Hawk's Deaf Musings.

When he first showed it to me, he pointed out a video bar he installed on the side. He gets a lot of visitors to his blog when he posts videos, so he thought that would be a helpful way to increase traffic on his blog. One of his videos is made by a Deaf girl who traveled to Cairo, Egypt and encountered a KFC restaurant run by all Deaf staff. The fascinating 6 minute video features her conversation with a manager, Deaf counter staff interacting with hearing customers, some new Egyptian signs for words like "chicken," "french fries," "ketchup," different kinds of pop, and some local words.

Like spoken languages, each country generally has its own Sign language; it's not a universal language. My jaw dropped when I first saw the manager signing in American Sign Language. He then explained that he had attended Gallaudet University, which is a Deaf University in Washington, DC.

Even if you don't understand a word of sign, it's interesting to watch and see how the customers and staff interact. And near the end, the Egyptian signs are captioned so you can learn them too.

I have to say, though, it made me feel sad to see that there was no problem with the hearing customers interacting with the Deaf customer service staff. I didn't expect there to be any problem. It's not a problem. People who work with Frank learn that it's not a problem. In fact, many of his past supervisors and managers tell me having Frank in the kitchen has improved communication with all staff members and the customers love him.

So why did it make me sad? This amazing KFC has a whole staff of Deaf people. In contrast, when Frank is out job hunting, him being Deaf is the biggest issue with prospective employers. It's illegal for them to not hire him just because he's Deaf, but they say he's got the education, qualifications, and work history they're looking for. They tell him he's a great candidate but then add that they "don't know how it will work out." End of interview. This comes up whenever he applies for a job. Any job.

How do we get American employers to see things the way the boss in the Cairo, Egypt KFC sees things? Surely in the USA we are forward-thinking, equal-rights, open minded people and can figure it out.

Can't we?

Please take 6 minutes to visit Frank's blog and watch the video.

Comments on how we can turn things around here for Deaf job applicants in the good old US of A are more than welcomed.


  1. No crackpot comment here...dead serious when I say that there needs to be a push in this country to teach sign language to EVERYONE in grade school. We taught our boys basic sign as they were growing up. My husband, sister, etc. all know sign (I know the basics) and when I see someone who relies on sign to communicate, I only pray I am able to keep up and not feel like a dunce. THAT is the way this country should approach the issue. WE, the hearing, are the ones that are impaired....(my opinion) The video is amazing, With much gratitude, Laurie B. (ps. Frank's blog is now on my google homepage...can't wait to read more)

  2. Thank you Laurie (and how neat that you guys know some Sign!)

    Somewhere I read that ASL is the second most used language in our country, after English.

    Spanish is THIRD. So why is it so much easier to request Spanish speaking interpreters than Sign Language interpreters? When I ask for an interpreter for stuff sometimes I get a deer in the headlights look and have to deal with a big runaround. Signing interpreters are considered "reasonable accommodation" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, while all other languages are not.

    We used to get phone calls from some timeshare vacation company that wanted us to sit through their sales presentation in exchange for a free vacation. I was interested in their sales pitch and would have participated... until I found out that while their sales location has wheelchair ramps and electric doors, we would have to provide our own interpreter. At our own expense. ($30/hr.) No.

    Don't get me started.

    *sigh*... too late.
    That's my rant for the day.