HEFEI, April 13 (Xinhua) -- A group of hearing-impaired people have established a cleaning company in Hefei City, capital of east China's Anhui Province. They hope to earn a living and the respect of their community as they clean up the city.
Born with a hearing impairment, Hu Min, the founder of the company, had a hard time finding a job after finishing special education in high school. Instead of following the norm of looking for factory work, he decided to start his own business to challenge himself and help his peers.
"The community of deaf-mute people is not that big. Most of them have limited access to jobs and low salaries although they work very hard," said Hu in sign language.
According to the second national sample survey of people with disabilities, roughly 27.8 million people from China suffer from hearing-impairment.
In 2017, Hu developed a social network application intended for the hearing and speech-impaired. However, his business suffered from a small user base as well as high promotion and maintenance costs. He ended up going bankrupt and had to sell his car to pay employees' salaries.
However, Hu refused to give in to fate. "I want to do something to prove that we can live a better life," said the 32-year-old.
Two years later, he bounced back and established a cleaning company named "Longwei," meaning that "deaf-mutes can also make a difference." Upon hearing the news, many of his friends and former employees came back to join him on his new adventure.
At the beginning it was far from easy. They particularly struggled with miscommunication with clients during work. They were fully prepared to face a certain level of prejudice and discrimination. On multiple occasions the clients would decline their services upon finding out they suffered from a hearing-impairment and were unable to speak.
With the assistance of Shen Mingming, who focused on customer services for the company, they created a WeChat group where customers and cleaners can communicate by typing.
"I played the role of their mouths and ears to communicate between our cleaners and customers via WeChat if there is any problem," said Shen, who is the only employee with normal hearing and speaking abilities in the cleaning company.
"I wrote down what they need to do. It's not difficult to understand each other," said a customer surnamed Guo in Hefei, who was impressed by the professional service of these cleaners with Longwei. "They were punctual and put on shoe covers before entering my house."
Gradually, their high-quality service helped build up their customer base and increase their income.
Not long ago, they did a deep cleaning for a product development laboratory in a university that requires an absolutely dust-free environment. Wearing protective clothing, six cleaners carefully removed dust from the ventilators, wiped working surfaces and vacuumed the floors. Thanks to their meticulous work, which lasted for over a month, the laboratory opened without any delay.
China will take measures to promote the employment of people with disabilities from 2022 to 2024, in a bid to realize adequate and relatively high-quality employment for the group during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), according to an action plan issued by the General Office of the State Council recently.
The plan aims to create 1 million new jobs for people with disabilities, enhance the group's abilities to find jobs or start businesses, and better safeguard their rights and interests.
"As more and more disabled people find jobs, I hope the whole society could have more understanding and respect for us. Of course, we will work even harder for the recognition of society," Hu said using sign language.