Deaf technicians find inspiration with Hong Kong events company after lifetime of discrimination

Wong Yat-ming, Moi Yung-chiao and Sher Por, all in their 60s, say disability-friendly employer has given them new lease on life after years of menial work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 8:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 8:16am

Forty years ago, they were classmates at a school for the deaf, searching for acceptance and opportunities in a world that had largely forgotten about those with disabilities.

They each had dreams for the future, but repeated rejections and disdain from employers led them to settle for tedious manual work to survive; distributing newspapers, doing food deliveries or cleaning – jobs with no need for much communication with people.

Now in their sixties, Wong Yat-ming, Moi Yung-chiao and Sher Por have found a place to restore their self-esteem and break out of the drudgery of their former jobs to flex their creative muscles.

The trio is employed by social enterprise Dazzle Entertainment to set up stage backdrops for events. In recognition of their work ethic, the company also awarded them with most outstanding employee titles.

Speaking in sign language, Wong, 62, said Dazzle was a disabled-friendly place and that for the first time in his life he felt respected and accepted at work.

“In the past, whenever prospective employers found out I was deaf, they would immediately send me away,” Wong said. “In many different workplaces I often came across discrimination as I couldn’t communicate with ordinary people.”

Wong, who is passionate about painting and design, said his work with Dazzle gave him a lot of satisfaction.

“As I am getting old I can’t expect too much. There is a limit to my working ability,” he said.

“But I am very happy working here as I have gained a lot of knowledge and professional skills. I can go to different events and meet many interesting people. I can also work with my lifelong friends here.”

The work with Dazzle has supplemented his other monthly earnings of about HK$10,000, adding an extra HK$6,000 to HK$7,000 of income.

Moi, 61, a former factory worker, said it was difficult for deaf people to find a decent job.

“Here I am allowed to express my ideas and am in charge of managing the work of other technicians. It is challenging but there’s a strong sense of satisfaction,” he said.

Moi added he had started to realise his value and hoped to pass on skills and knowledge to younger people with disabilities.

Here I am allowed to express my ideas
Moi Yung-chiao, 61, a former factory worker

“I hope to pass the baton to more young people with hearing disabilities so they can fully utilise their talents,” he said.

Sher, 60, previously a ship maintenance worker, said he appreciated the sense of trust between him and his employer, as well as the warmth he felt from mutual support among friends in the workplace.

“Before, I worked in a solitary environment,” he said.

“Now I work with my friends to solve problems in order to meet the needs of clients. It’s very interesting.”