Deaf Aldi customer shares worker's incredible act: 'Massive thank you'

A deaf Aldi customer has praised the incredible act of a staff member at his local store after she helped him to communicate with her.

The customer, Simon Houghton, gave a heartfelt shout-out to the kind Aldi staffer from Basingstoke in south-central England, who removed her face mask at checkout so he could lipread.

“A massive thank you to the checkout operator (checkout seven) this morning who removed her mask from behind the perspex screen so that I could lipread, and therefore, hear her,” Mr Houghton wrote in his post.

Simon Houghton (left) Aldi sign (right). Source: LinkedIn/Getty Images
Simon Houghton founded the #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign to encourage deaf awareness. Source: Linkedin/Getty Images

Mr Houghton accompanied the post with a photo of himself wearing a face mask, which reads: “I’m deaf. Can’t read your lips with your mask on”.

The deaf awareness advocate explained that it has been difficult to communicate with others during the pandemic, as mask wearing inhibits the deaf community from hearing people.

It’s for this reason that Mr Houghton said he founded the #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign, which now has 122,000 employees who have access to online training.

Aldi staff member scanning groceries Source: Getty Images
'You’ve got a special employee there, Aldi UK' said the grateful shopper. Source: Getty Images

“Just wished everyone could understand what it has been like,” wrote Mr Houghton.

Before concluding: “You’ve got a special employee there, Aldi UK.”

What is the #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign?

The #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign was founded by Simon Houghton, who has been deaf since birth and relies heavily on lipreading and hearing aids to communicate.

The national campaign was launched in the UK in April 2021 to encourage organisations to become more deaf aware and reduce isolation for people with hearing difficulties.

“For the past year we’ve been in lockdown, and for me personally, at times it’s been incredibly frustrating,” says Mr Houghton on the WSDF website.

“The mask has been a significant barrier to communicating with others as I have to rely so heavily on lipreading and as do millions of others,” he adds.

Shoppers in masks in front of an Aldi sign. Source: Getty Images
Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have struggled to communicate due to mask-wearing. Source: Getty Images

Mr Houghton explains that deaf and hard-of-hearing people have struggled to communicate over the last 15 months due to mask-wearing in essential services, such as doctors offices, grocery stores, banks and more.

“Deafness is invisible, and it is often just a case of not understanding what it means to be deaf. So I want to raise awareness, so that people can begin to understand what it is like and some of the challenges the deaf and hard-of-hearing face,” says Mr Houghton.

Therefore, the #WeSupportDeafAwareness campaign consists of two parts: training and promotion.

The campaign is targeted at any organisation and includes deaf awareness training for employees and promotional materials.

The ultimate goal of the campaign?

“A more human understanding, empathetic and kind conversation,” says Mr Houghton.

Hundreds applaud Aldi staffer in the comments

Mr Houghton’s heartwarming post struck a chord with hundreds of people taking to the comments to applaud the kindness of the Aldi staffer and share their own situation.

“Seemingly ‘small’ things making [a] big impact. Well done Aldi Basingstoke checkout seven,” wrote one commentator.

Well done Aldi employee. It is hard for everyone to wear masks, but when it impacts a person's ability to communicate it's a double whammy,” wrote a second.

While a third wrote: “Aldi for the win.”

Meanwhile, others took the chance to share some of the challenges they have faced due to the pandemic.

“My daughter is deaf and has struggled in the pandemic immensely. She’s missed out on so much as the world around her doesn’t understand how/what she needs,” wrote one mother.

“I am partially deaf and rely on a good hearing aid and lip reading. Just spent 10 days in hospital and could hardly make a word out from nurses and doctors,” said another user.

While others recommended that more retailers promote deaf awareness in the workplace and train staff to communicate more effectively.

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