A very able lot
THOSE who don't hear will feel. The clichéd phrase is usually said in a warning tone, but for three women with hearing disabilities, they are feeling the rewards of long-term employment.
Evan Gordon-Hemmings, Jennifer Anthony and Sandra Dixon have been employed to B&D Trawling Company for 23, 10 and 24 years respectively, and have received good reviews from employers and clients.
The women, who are deaf, have the ability to read lips, text, and write and have used such skills to succeed in life.
B&D Trawling Company has been in operation since 1985 and was operated by the late Bunny Francis. His son Roderick Francis now operates the business.
Francis said the business, which deals with industrial conch and lobster fishing and packaging for export, employs over 150 persons of whom 80 per cent are females.
Francis said having three hearing impaired employees has not been a challenge as their productivity at times surpasses others who are fully functional.
"They are as good as anybody else and they can essentially outperform other workers even though they are deaf," he said.
Francis said the women work in the processing area of the plant and are able to multitask well.
"They form a part in the process of weighing and grading the product and cleaning the product, so they are pretty versatile," he said.
The procedure, according to Francis, is a dual process which sees the product being fished at sea by the Pedro Bank, transported to the processing plant by boat and off-loaded. Then the 'real' process begins with cutting and cleaning, washing, weighing, adding water to achieve a glaze, sealing the bags and freezing the items, and this is where the women become occupied.
Apart from securing long-term employment, the women have also managed to secure their own homes and families. Gordon- Hemmings built her home in 2006 with assistance from her job and has been married for 14 years. Both Anthony and Dixon also have homes and used the medium of writing to appeal to women who have thrown in the towel to keep trying.
For Gordon- Hemmings, it is painful to know of women who are physically strong with no challenges who refuse to work. She wrote the following to All Woman:
"I helped two girls get jobs here a long time ago and they left and said it was hard work. There were six dumb women here, one died and two left, so now it is just me and my two friends. I feel bad to know that the others gave up and that women who had no disability gave up too. I feel really bad."
Her husband Earl said his wife taught him to sign and their union has been a good one.
"Once you are able to do a job, get up and seek a job. If the disabled can do it, anyone can," he said.
He joked that he doesn't have to worry about gossip and constant quarrels.
He said his sign lessons are continuous as like regular language where words become outdated and new slang takes over, new signs will come up from time to time.
Francis said the work environment allows unity to exist between workers and management, something which he credits to his late father.
"There is an open-door policy. Employees are family and everyone works together to stay employed. My father was a person who believed in equal opportunity for each individual. Anyone at any level, from the security to the manager, can open my door and have a conversation with me," he said.