Thanks to two deaf employees, the Amazon site in Schodak, New York has put a greater focus on becoming inclusive to people who are deaf or hearing impaired, WRGB TV reports.
CBS6 spoke with the employees and two American Sign Language Interpreters, Amy Sobel and Doug Rime, to hear about their experience with the company. Ronnie Lim and Christiano de Castro Assumpcao Koyama both started at the site when it opened in September, and they said it took some time for everyone to adjust. They had interpreters on site the first few days.
“One of the problems was, people wearing masks because of the pandemic, and that makes it very difficult for deaf people.” Ronnie said. “Part of our language and part of our culture is be able to read people’s facial expression and be able to read their body language and because of COVID, that was a barrier for us and a challenge.”
Ronnie and Christiano started working with the human resources department to find ways to become more inclusive.
“Ronnie approached me and asked if there was a way they could get posters hung up of the basic signs, like the alphabet and numbers, and I kinda took that and ran with it,” said Kennedy Thompson, the Senior HR Assistant at the site.
Sign language posters are hung around the million-square-foot facility; there are TV screens with video examples of how to sign different common words or phrases; and the employees have signs on their machinery and wear vests that say “I am deaf/hard of hearing”.
There are now four deaf associates at the Amazon site in Schodack, and they hope to include more.
“This was a learning experience for me and I think everyone in the building, but honestly, everyone has been absolutely amazing and so supportive and helpful and just going the extra mile in any way they can,” Thompson said.