Training and livelihood opportunities for deaf people, DDIA, Ethiopia

Young deaf people are at a double disadvantage when it comes to getting vocational training and jobs because many have not had a proper education and their chances of getting decent employment in the hearing world are very small. Deaf people’s most effective means of communication through sign language is by default limited to communicating within their own community as the hearing population is largely unable to sign. We worked with DDIA, a deaf-led association to provide 100 deaf people (50 young men and 50 young women) with IT training. We then equipped the 70 most promising trainees with enterprise set-up skills, funds to rent cyber cafe premises, and starter kits of desktops and a printer. The seven groups they formed have all now got their cyber cafes up-and-running.The remaining 30 young people are well on the way to setting up their own cafes too.

In Ethiopia cyber cafes represent the marriage of the deep-rooted tradition of the coffee ceremony (after all coffee originated in Ethiopia) and modern communications and networking technology. A cup of coffee, with freshly roasted and pounded beans will cost between two and six Birr (anything between 6 and 20 pence) depending on the café’s location. The cyber cafes provide internet services along with photocopying and printing, and of course coffee and cakes. Some of the groups have diversified into providing meals and charging mobile phones, or charging one or two Birr to watch a Premiership football match, and we have enjoyed seeing the imagination some of the groups are demonstrating.

The most active and successful of the enterprises is run by the group in Arada sub city, followed by the Gullele group led by deaf women, and the group in Kirkos.

These cyber cafes run by deaf entrepreneurs are providing internet and other services for deaf people, but their clientele are overwhelmingly hearing people, and so they provide a powerful demonstration model, helping to raise deaf awareness. Read Deaf Development and Information Association. 

Main Photo: Alemayehu Teferi, DDIA President, hands over computer hardware to the Kirkos sub city deaf entrepreneurs group 

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