Looking for another sense

This Entry has been submitted.

Looking for another sense: For hearing-impaired finding a job is mission (im)possible.

Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project empowers hearing-impaired individuals in Slovakia to utilize their vocational skills to become self-employed and economically active participants in society. It provides them with the necessary training, capital, and guidance to start their own business.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The main struggle of the hearing-impaired community in Slovakia (1% of the population) is best described by a deaf and blind writer Hellen Keller: "Blindness separates people from things, deafness separates people from people". The hearing-impaired in Slovakia face a very limited access to information due to their inability to read with comprehension, a difficulty finding and sustaining traditional employment, and limited opportunities for adult education. The project empowers hearing-impaired to become self-sufficient.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Programme provides hearing-impaired with basic 5 day seminar translated into the sign language (currently the only one on the job market) focused on how to start and run own business. After successful business plan it gives them a start-up capital, and offers ongoing support through mentors. Since its launch in 2008, the project supported 48 new businesses which helped over 100 hearing-impaired individuals and their families to get back on their feet. Ultimately, the project helps with the integration of the hearing-impaired community, enables them to become socially and economically active participants in the society, builds their skills and increases their quality of life.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Pavel Š. could not find a job. Employers view his hearing handicap as disadvantage. Had it not been our programme, he probably would have been unemployed depended on social security support. After being in our programme and getting a training in how to start a business in his own sing-language for easier understanding, he opened up the first Deaf kebab in Slovakia (Note: Kebab is fast food called also Donner). Since he prepared a good business plan, the programme jury upon his presentation granted him grant of more than 3 000 euros to help him open up his business. The deafness is now his competitive advantage! Customers are thrilled to order in sing-language and view the handicap as a reason that makes them like the services.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

According to WHO today there are 360 millions of hearing-impaired in the world. It is expected that in 2025 this number will more than double up to 900 millions. Labour offices and Slovak legislature targeting people with physical disabilities do not take into consideration the specific communication needs of this group and therefore, the educational and job opportunities. Empowering the hearing-impaired in Slovakia to become active mobilizes them to become leaders in this community and take part in addressing the legislative changes pertaining to people with hearing disabilities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Telekom is the only company in Slovakia developing comprehensive programs for hearing-impaired people along with the NGO Pontis foundation which is the only organization systematically addressing the needs of the hearing-impaied community. Slovak Telekom has been supporting hearing-impaired since 2002 - via special telco products for this community, front-desk staff training in sign language, with Pontis foundation supporting hearing-impaired businessmen, families with hearing-impaired kids, organizing free sing-language courses for public and providing education to young students.


There is a multidisciplinary team contributing to the project’s impact. We cooperate with experts on social enterprises, individuals working closely with the hearing-impaired community (sign language interpreters), as well as government workers working with people with disabilities. In our trainings, we use experienced lecturers and professionals with mentoring and business skills. In terms of the top management, the corporation’s leadership has played a significant role in advocating for the long-term sustainability of the project. Their support has contributed to the continuation of the project and was vital in making this project well respected even by the government authorities. The top management of our organization views this project as essential to our core values and has contributed to its financial sustainability.