Innovative Practice 2021 on Inclusive Employment and ICT

Pharmacy specialized in employment and services for deaf people

Marien Apotheke is a small Vienna-based pharmacy, founded in 1909 which has specialized in the support of deaf customers. In 2008, the pharmacy hired a deaf apprentice, unique in Austria, and later on trained pharmaceuticals assistants who are deaf as well and began to provide sign language courses for staff to communicate with deaf customers. Marien Apotheke is attracting customers with hearing impairments from all over Vienna and its surroundings.

“The importance as a deaf pharmacist is that deaf persons are informed in their mother tongue.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Training and counselling for deaf people
Organisation:Marien Apotheke
of Implementation
Austria – Vienna
Start Year2008
Sub-CategoryA project of the Business Sector


  • In 2020 there is one deaf pharmacists and two deaf support staff
  • Marien Apotheke is the main contact point for customers with hearing impairments in Vienna and its surroundings


There are very few deaf people working in the Austrian health sector, and deaf customers are under-serviced.


In 2008, Marien Apotheke hired a deaf apprentice, and – after seeing the impact and potential of these new competencies – in 2013 hired a deaf graduate of a pharmaceutical study in Austria2013. He was the first and is still the only deaf pharmacist in Austria, graduating in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
After that, Marien Apotheke developed its strategy by building a barrier-free work and training environment for deaf people in the pharmacy, and for customers to get fully comprehensible and accessible advice. Sign language courses have been attended also by the hearing staff to communicate with deaf customers.

Marien Apotheke the main contact point for deaf customers for pharmaceutical services in Vienna and Lower Austria, the province surrounding Vienna. Marien Apotheke has created a barrier-free newsletter, along with free health information videos and lectures in Austrian sign language. In 2020 the pharmacy employs three deaf staff members and has recently employed two staff members with Asperger Syndrome who are supported through mentorships and clearly defined workflows.

A person in a white polo shirt is talking to a customer. He is a deaf pharmacist who works at Marien Apotheke. In the background is a variety of pharma products on shelves.

Sreco Dolanc, a deaf pharmacist at Marien Apotheke, talks to his customers. ©Marien Apotheke


The project does not require additional funding. The programmes of the Ministry of Social Affairs partly fund the salaries of the deaf staff members and the sign language interpreters, according to Vienna regulations for subsidies. The Fonds Soziales Wien (The Vienna Social Fund) partly funds the mentoring of the staff with Asperger Syndrome.

MA aims to improve the service in Austrian sign language in the coming years. As of 2020 it is in the process of obtaining FairForAll, a certification for accessibility. Additional services such as medication management in sign language are being evaluated.


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