Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Thomas Pattison School students work at The Coffee Emporium

A cuppa wasn’t the only thing on the menu at Parramatta’s The Coffee Emporium on Tuesday.

Four year 10 hearing impaired students from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s (RIDBC) Thomas Pattison School made coffees for the public and learned how to operate a cafe as part of Hearing Awareness Week.

They run a cafe called Perfect Serve at their North Rocks school on Thursday mornings, which is open to the public. They interact with customers through sign language or an interpreter.

“We place no limitations on what they can achieve,” RIDBC fundraising executive Nadine Kanaan said.

“The only limitations come from external sources. Many people find them inspiring but they’re just kids who have been given an opportunity. Any 15-16-year-old who can work a coffee machine is a real testament to them.”

Teacher Kellie Walker, who’s also deaf said it was a mutually beneficial experience involved. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn on the job training, develop skills in customer service, and for the local community to become more aware of deaf people and their skills and communication,” she said.

The Coffee Emporium owner Summer Ismail saw it as a unique way she could give back to the community.  

“The kids were really intelligent, motivated and easy to work with,” she said.

“They picked up on everything really fast and were a lot of fun to have around. Before this experience, I had an idea of what a deaf person was but they’ve opened my eyes to seeing just different each person is with their own skills and goals for the future. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about a topic I didn’t really know much about before simply because I was never exposed to the deaf world. I worked with them just like I would have any other person trying to learn the ropes.”

Mrs Kannan hopes the experience will make students more resilient. “It means they have real life skills when they leave school,” she said.

“Hard work doesn’t discriminate.”

It was also an opportunity to raise awareness about RIDBC, which relies on fundraising and public support to make a difference to people’s lives.

  • Details: ridbc.org.au.