KFC's Times Square branch on Sukhumvit Road is quieter than other fast food branches. Apart from the conversational murmur of customers, there's little noise behind the counter.
Speech- and hearing-impaired staff show a customer a sign explaining how to order at KFC’s Times Square branch yesterday.
Of the 45 staff, 32 have daily jobs that range from taking orders, making fried chicken, and serving clients. But these 32 are also hearing-impaired.
This is the first of the 10-billion-baht franchise's branches in Thailand to employ the hearing impaired.
Customers who visit the restaurant will notice a placard in sign language at the front of the gate.
Milind Pant, the managing director of Yum Restaurants International (Thailand) Co, the operator of KFC, said the programme is part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.
The company plans to have 120 hearing-impaired staff by next year at three new KFC branches including Major Ekamai and Digital Gateway malls.
Yum also has chains in India and Singapore with hearing-impaired employees.
The Thai firm spent 1.3 million baht preparing the Times Square branch _ installing new machines, equipment and a special management system to support these employees.
The hearing-impaired staff have been extensively trained on how to take orders and understand customer preferences.
Pant: Offers better quality of life
In addition, other KFC employees working at the same location have to be trained in communicating with the hearing impaired to assist them if there is a miscommunication when providing services.
Specially designed TV monitors are installed at the counter from which hearing-impaired staff take orders, and this allows customers to see what they ordered.
Pictures of necessary equipment such as forks, spoons, non-dairy creamer, sugar and sauces are displayed on the menus for customers.
Yum partners with the National Association of the Deaf in Thailand (NADT) and Suan Dusit Rajabhat University in welcoming the hearing impaired to work at KFC.
Hearing-impaired staff can advance in their career and become KFC managers, the same as other employees.
"We believe in the potential of each individual, especially the disabled, who deserve a better quality of life in our society," said Mr Pant.
The CSR project is part of Yum's promise to support sustainable community development, he said.
NADT manager Suksan Suttiboon said there are 1,265,225 people with disabilities in Thailand.
Of them, 199,284 have hearing and communication disabilities, and many cannot find job opportunities to enable a regular quality of life in society.
"I believe they have the ability to work in various professions. I'm glad KFC has provided such a good opportunity, and I hope more companies follow suit," said Mr Suksan.
About the author
- Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter