You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » Features
Business Standard

KFC handshake for hearing impaired

Pradipta Mukherjee  |  Kolkata 

Thirty-seven boys and girls at the newly-opened Kolkata outlet have been trained to lip-read the customers' requests.

In a first of its kind initiative and available only in Kolkata, global fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has set up its first outlet in Kolkata which would be managed by around 37 hearing impaired young boys and girls.

KFC has an outlet in Chennai where around 12 young and hearing impaired people manage only the kitchen.

But the recently inaugurated KFC outlet in Kolkata will be the first in the country where hearing-impaired young people will interact with customers, take orders, serve food on the table, clean the restaurant as well as manage the kitchen.

The KFC outlet in Kolkata also employs around eight normal people who can take orders on phone. They will also be of assistance, in case there are any communication problems with the hearing impaired colleagues while taking orders.

According to Unnat Varma, marketing director of KFC India, "We thought of employing the hearing impaired at KFC outlet as part of our corporate social responsibility. All our special employees at the Kolkata outlet are trained in lip-reading and sign language, so they can lip-read and take orders from customers. They have been extensively trained on how to take orders and understand customer preferences. Similarly, the other KFC employees also had to be trained in communicating with the hearing impaired."

"Globally, KFC's outlets in Singapore and Middle East employ hearing impaired at its restaurants, for kitchen as well as customer interaction levels," Varma said, without divulging how many hearing impaired are globally employed at its outlets.

For its Kolkata outlet, KFC joined hands with 'Silence', a Kolkata-based NGO to supply young hearing impaired boys and girls to manage the restaurant.

According to Subroto Majumdar of Silence, "We have been working with hearing impaired people since 1979. We advertise in newspapers and ask the hearing impaired to join us for employment.

We also train them in finding employment elsewhere as we cannot accommodate everyone."

Silence accepts any hearing impaired person who has completed education up to class VIII.

Silence offers courses to them so that they can be employable.

A one-year art and craft course at Silence costs Rs 500, while a six-month computer education course costs Rs 288. Certificates are awarded by the Jadavpur University, one of the premier universities in Kolkata.

Silence currently employs 105 people, of which 90 are hearing impaired.

"So far, we have employed women at our store in Kolkata which sells handicrafts. The yearly turnover of this store is Rs 1.5 crore. Our boys and girls have also got employed with ITC hotels for housekeeping jobs, with Pepsi and now with KFC," Majumdar said.

On an average, these hearing impaired boys and girls earn between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000, in addition to one meal a day, provident fund and uniforms.

Majumdar added, "The hearing impaired in India don't get employment readily, no matter what the government claims. It is only companies like KFC, Pepsi, ITC, and others, who come forward and employ our students. Experience will reveal that most special employees are more committed to their jobs and more hardworking than the rest. Hopefully, more companies will follow suit."

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Tue, March 11 2008. 00:00 IST