My name is Carlyle Gabbidon. I am 28 and the head barista at Deaf Can! Coffee. For the last year and a half, I’ve been responsible for managing the coffee shop at the School for the Deaf, where we started roasting coffee and brewing drinks. Now I am training the students in making food and baking, too.
I’ve always wanted to work and use my talents, but before Deaf Can! Coffee started, I would do a side job for someone, such as fix a laptop or a phone, and they would expect it for free. I’d say it costs 2,000 Jamaican dollars, but a lot of people think that because I’m deaf I can be taken advantage of, and they wouldn’t pay me for my work. When I was younger I went to a bakery because I wanted to learn how to make bread at a factory, but the boss said, “You’re deaf, you can’t, you’re too slow.” I said, “No, I can do this!” I felt like it wasn’t fair and I was discouraged.
Now we’re opening up a public coffee shop in partnership with another café where Fabian – my assistant manager – and I work alongside hearing people. We’re proving that deaf can do anything!