BUSINESS may not be brisk, however, OKU Dobi Sdn Bhd at Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur has a fair share of regular customers.
As the name goes, the laundry service is managed by four disabled persons including three with learning problems.
The four are among those trained by qualified Job Coaches in the country as part of a programme introduced by the Social Welfare Department in 2012.
The fourth staff of the laundry shop is the supervisor Muhammad Syazani Sazali, 30, who has cerebral palsy.
“I am a senior staff here and I am able to communicate better with the customers compared to my fellow workers who are slow learners. I am able to lead the team as I have a few years of experience,” said Muhammad Syazani who lives with his grandmother.
Since he is unable to drive, he relies on an app-based taxi service to reach his workplace and return home.
As for his colleagues, they were trained by the Job Coach to take the public transport such as the train or bus to work.
He said business was slow at the laundry as the public may not be familiar communicating with persons with learning disability.
He urged the public to give those with learning disability a chance to support themselves financially.
OKU Dobi would hand out a form to the customer to indicate what sort of service they required such as dry-cleaning or wash and iron. This simplified communication between the staff and the customers.
“We are fortunate to have customers who are patient with us. We have better business during school holidays with up to 21 customers per month. Guests who stay in nearby hotels would send their laundry to us. If not for that, the business is rather slow.
“A tourist from China who was satisfied with our service was kind enough to promote our laundry to his friends. All his friends who visited Kuala Lumpur have been sending their laundry to us,” added Muhammad Syazani.
However, it was not smooth sailing for them as there were some who took the opportunity to bully and cheat the workers; knowing they were slow-learners.
“We had one incident where a customer took advantage of the situation by ‘bullying’ a staff. My colleagues have been trained to reject clothes with stains that are impossible to remove.
“The customer walked in with a damaged jacket that had a tough stain. My colleague had refused to take the jacket, however, the customer insisted that he took the garment.
“After the dry-cleaning service, the customer demanded RM5,000 claiming the jacket was damaged. We got a tailor to stitch a new jacket and it costs RM2,000. The cost was borne by a generous donor but we learnt our lesson not to fall prey to those who come to our shop with bad intentions,” he said.
The OKU Dobi is located at The Gardens South Tower, Level P2, Mid Valley City. For details, call 017-2544 390 or 03-22820541.
The Mydin chain of malls, hypermarket and supermarket has 160 disabled staff, mostly with learning disabilities, hired with the help from Job Coach.
Raimirafy Ramli, 25, has cerebral palsy and speech impairment. To get to work, he travels from Tanjung Malim to Mydin Rawang by train as taught by his Job Coach. He and two of his colleagues carry out stock keeping and sometimes assist customers to find products at Mydin.
“I want to save money and buy a motorcycle,” said Raimirafy, who was grateful to hold a job at Mydin. He said he has many friends at the workplace and this was a plus factor.
Raimirafy said it was tough for him to secure a job previously, and he was glad his Job Coach trained him well to carry out the task at the workplace.
His fellow worker Muhd Firdaus Lazili, 24, has learning disability and needs extra reminder from his supervisor, yet he is able to perform to satisfactory level at work.
Another staff Siti Norfarah Dilah Mohamad, 30, is diligent at work despite her learning disability.
Mydin Retail Academy senior trainer Ahmad Yirozainee Yaacob said most organisations would prefer to hire those with physical disabilities because they were easier to train.
However, with the help from Job Coach, the company was able to hire those with learning disability too.
He said the disabled workers at Mydin had good discipline, were punctual and turned up for work regularly.
“For the first few weeks or days, the Job Coach will teach the disabled everything they need to know.
“We at Mydin have video training which is easier for those with learning disability to follow.
“We first hired 40 disabled staff but now we have 160 because they are capable and have positive work traits,” he said.
The Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur has been hiring persons with disabilities even before 2012 because the company believes in an inclusive society.
Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur Human Resources director Wendy Ho said the company had nine staff with disability. Most of them are slow learners, including those with autism.
She said one of the former disabled staff saved up some money and bought a People’s Housing Scheme (PPR) flat. He had returned to his hometown to take care of his ailing parents.
“They have very good discipline and take instructions well. They even come ahead of time and sometimes work better than the others as they love their job.
“Our staff Jerry Tham is a slow learner but he can bake numerous jars of cookies without feeling bored and he does them very well,” she said.
Ho said the disabled staff were paid the same as able-bodied persons and they have room for career advancement.
Ho, who is also a qualified Job Coach, said it was important for parents of persons with disability to trust and allow their children to hold a job.
“We need the support from the parents to allow Job Coaches to train their children. Similarly employers must also be prepared to have an inclusive environment and cater to the needs of a disabled staff,” she said.
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