Deafness no barrier for barista Julz
Barista Julz Russ has a unique way of taking customers’ coffee orders.
The 28-year-old from Wellington is a manager from Cafe Co-Ed, a deaf-friendly cafe and training environment in Wellington.
Russ was born deaf, the result of a condition called congenital rubella syndrome. After years of speech therapy, Russ learnt to speak, perform sign language and read lips - which is how she communicates, with the help of a cochlear implant.
This week, she helped launch a cafe called CO-OP on the balcony of Fairfax Media’s new Cider Building office on Ponsonby’s Williamson Ave.
CO-OP is designed to help improve diversity in the workplace.
Fairfax NZ managing director Simon Tong said it was more than just great coffee at bargain prices and easy access to caffeine.
‘‘If we can prove the concept over the coming days and weeks, then it will become a permanent feature and someone with a disability, but who is eager and able to make a contribution to society, will have found a permanent job,’’ Tong said.
Russ welcomed the move by Fairfax, saying it meant more opportunities for people with disabilities that otherwise were not available to them.
Russ has worked in the coffee industry for 14 years.
After years of speech therapy, Julz Russ has learnt to speak and can lip read, and use sign language.