In conjunction with International Week of the Deaf (IWD) this year, Grab launched its #BreakTheSilence initiative which aims to empower the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in its ecosystem and to bridge the communication gap between passengers and deaf driver-partners.
In collaboration with the Malaysia Federation of the Deaf (MFD), #BreakTheSilence will focus on educating and raising awareness of flexible income opportunities and improve deaf driver-partners’ driving experience.
In Malaysia, it is estimated that 443,541 of the population has some form of disability. The government has been driving inclusivity by encouraging employment opportunities for those with disabilities. Most of them who are deaf and hard-of-hearing still struggle to find work – impacting at least 32,517 people in Malaysia.
“At Grab, we’re always striving to serve our communities better by creating a more inclusive and accessible platform for all. We’re proud to serve and empower our deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners who use the platform as a source of flexible economic income and financial independence,” said Sean Goh, Country Head, Grab Malaysia.
“At the end of the day, these inspiring driver-partners just want the opportunity to be a productive member of the society. We hope to inspire more deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers to utilise the Grab platform for income opportunities. However, there is so much more we can do to support and enhance these driver-partner’s experience.”
In an effort to better understand the challenges, enhance its platform and provide more opportunities for the deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners, Grab reached out to MFD for this campaign. Founded in 1997, MFD is a self-funded NGO administered by the deaf for the deaf which strives to establish a deaf community that is capable and competitive academically, socially, economically and career-wise.
“We appreciate and commend Grab for its efforts in providing these opportunities for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Through this effort our community will be empowered to move forward in their lives and it will definitely give them a sense of hope and independence,” said Tengku Arman Harris Tengku Ismail, President, MFD.
Empowering through financial independence
Grab has almost 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners across Malaysia on its platform. And like most of the other driver-partners, they tend to earn 37% more supplementary income with Grab on top of their day-to-day jobs.
As Grab continuously strives to improve its platform, it will start to include a sign language interpreter in all its driver-partner engagement events and revise its training materials to include situations unique for deaf and hard-of-hearing driver partners.
Grab has also initiated a deaf driver mentor group, that will be able to provide additional support and guide new deaf or hard-of-hearing driver-partners through their first few trips!
Building a better driving experience
#BreakTheSilence is also aimed at facilitating a smoother driving experience by addressing the basic communication challenges faced by driver-partners and passengers. It also aims to change the perception of passengers towards drivers with disabilities and help driver-partners serve their passengers better.
With that in mind, Grab has introduced conversation cards which are placed in all deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partner’s cars. These cards include tips and basic signs to help passengers communicate with their deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners.
“After completing my university studies, I found that communication is usually verbal. Working with Grab, however, I found that it has a lot of tools to communicate with passengers, who often have interest in communicating in sign language. It makes my day to share with them, ” says Preeshan Thas, a 30-year-old driver-partner and videographer.
The International Week of the Deaf also saw Grab together with MFD hosting a special luncheon to acknowledge and celebrate their deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners. The luncheon boasts a variety of activities revolving around the #BreakTheSilence campaign and also in acknowledgement of the internationally celebrated week.
The event gave an opportunity for Grab to interact with its driver-partners through the sign language workshop and performances by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It also witnessed the unveiling of the Grab brand’s sign language which was crafted by MFD.
“Through our #BreakTheSilence campaign, we are aiming to make a difference in not only the livelihood of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community but also to be as inclusive as possible in creating equal opportunities for all within our ecosystem. This is also in line with Grab’s ongoing commitment of giving back to the community,” concluded Goh.