Couple weeks ago, BriConnect owned by Caylan McMullan contacted me to work together on a project with Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons shot a commercial involving ASL and just posted today of #TimsTrueStory told by MacKenzie and Blair. Tim Hortons reason for reaching out to BriConnect and me, their mission was for us to provide authentic Deaf & Hard of Hearing Awareness workshop and teach their staff sign language in their workplace. Milton has a large Deaf & Hard of Hearing community who frequent Tim Hortons and the owners of Milton wanted their staff to be able to communicate in their community’s language and have a more positive approach when greeting them.
I traveled to Toronto on Monday last week to provide 3 hour sessions in Milton on Tuesday and Wednesday. I met with Natalie Pecile, Tim Hortons’ marketing manager, who arranged the event at Milton Loblaws (820 Main St. East). Tables were set up in a U-shape surrounding the large tv where my PowerPoint presentation was displayed. Interpreters were provided for the staff as I spoke in ASL. The first hour I focused on spreading awareness of diverse Deaf people, the culture and community. Then I expanded on how ASL works in the second hour with list of words and phrases used in the Tim Hortons setting. The last hour we did role play and reviewed signs learned.
About 30 staff and managers in two days were eager to learn and asked great questions. They have experienced meeting different Deaf and Hard of Hearing customers. Some are frequent customers they have become accustomed to see in their stores. One of the staff told me an interesting story, they have a Deaf woman who uses the drive through… people wonder how Deaf people communicate via the speakers… this woman would count to 5 then raise the volume of her radio to acknowledge herself to the staff. They knew who she was and she would come up to the window getting exactly what she wants. They accommodated her perfectly. My PowerPoint included my signing model Erika Stebbings, I edited the photos to showcase what Canadian signs looks like. A lot of the staff were fascinated with the sign THANK YOU, because I emphasize that there were many ways it was signed wrong. To sign Thank You, its from the chin! One sweet staff in particular apparently has been blowing kisses when she believed she was saying Thank You, its no wonder she was getting customers phone numbers 😉
Overall the message of these sessions has taught the staff that communicating in sign language reaps great benefits because they have Deaf and Hard of Hearing customers for once in their lives feel they were accommodated instead of the other way around. NO language barriers and its all smiles from there.
BriConnect and myself can make custom workshops for any environment, and hires only Deaf, Hard of Hearing and CASLI interpreters.