Em­ployer’s ef­forts marked

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

A Taranaki em­ployer has been recog­nised for his ef­forts in helping a deaf em­ployee.

Build­ing con­trac­tor Mark Wells, who owns Wells Build­ing and Con­struc­tion, em­ployed Keith Mor­ris over a year ago, af­ter a fam­ily friend of Keith’s asked Mark if he could of­fer the 31-year-old a job.

“A client of ours ap­proached me one day and told me about Keith and asked me if I would con­sider em­ploy­ing him.

“I thought, well, I’m in a good po­si­tion so why not?”

Mark called Steve An­der from Work­bridge, which is a spe­cial­ist em­ploy­ment ser­vice which matches peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity and po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers.

“Me call­ing Steve was amaz­ing in it­self. I never call peo­ple nor­mally, I wait for them to call me! I talked to Steve and asked if it was pos­si­ble. I did have some health and safety con­cerns, so we talked that over too, and then I just de­cided to get on with it and give Keith a chance.”

Keith, who com­mu­ni­cates with sign lan­guage and by writ­ing in a note­book, says he ap­pre­ci­ated Mark giv­ing him that chance.

“The team are good, they are all nice to work with. I like learn­ing how to build and I en­joy be­ing able to work as part of a team.”

While Keith can lipread, he says it isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble.

“I can lipread maybe 60 per cent of things. I can’t lipread all peo­ple, but I also use text mes­sages or write on pa­per.”

His work­mates have all started learn­ing some ba­sic sign since Keith started work­ing with them.

“They have down­loaded the New Zealand Sign Lan­guage app on their phones and use that to learn things.”

Mark says he is happy to learn sign, although he doesn’t think he is that great at it.

“I think it’s like a pid­gin sign I am us­ing, I know some but not all, and when Keith is sign­ing to some­one else who knows sign he is very fast and I can’t fol­low it.”

Mark says now Keith has worked for him for over a year, all his ini­tial con­cerns have gone away. “I think my main worry was oth­ers not know­ing he was deaf, so ex­pect­ing him to hear when he couldn’t, if they needed to warn him of a dan­ger or some­thing, but ac­tu­ally we have had no prob­lems, Keith is more than ca­pa­ble and I’m happy to be his em­ployer.”

Steve vis­ited Mark and Keith on Wed­nes­day to present Mark with a Work­bridge Above and Be­yond cer­tifi­cate, recog­nis­ing his ef­forts.

Steve, Mark and Keith with the cer­tifi­cate Mark was pre­sented with.

Keith com­mu­ni­cates eas­ily us­ing sign or a notepad.

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