Bakery helps deaf Chinese earn their daily bread

SHOTLIST CHANGSHA, HUNAN, CHINASEPTEMBER 8, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 1. Mid shot bakers working in the kitchen2. Tracking shot a baker taking out flour from the flour roller3. Close-up baker working on dough 4. Pan right Uwe Brutzer, bakery owner communicating with hearing-impaired bakers using sign language 5. SOUNDBITE 1 - Wan - Ting, hearing-impaired baker (female, 28 years old, Mandarin Chinese, 15 sec): "It’s difficult (to find work) in other places. You need to know someone to be able to find good work." 6. Wide shot Uwe Brutzer, bakery owner working around a bread rack 7. SOUNDBITE 2 - Uwe Brutzer, bakery owner (male, 50 years old, English, 25 sec): "Our goal is also to have the society realise the good work hearing-impaired people with other disabilities can do to encourage more companies, more people to hire people with special needs, or just make friends with them. They are like us too. " 8. Cutaway: Mid shot Uwe Brutzer, bakery owner and another baker making dessert 9. Wide shot bakers making cookies ///-----------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY: German bakery helps deaf Chinese earn their daily bread By LAN Lianchao =(Video+Picture)= ATTENTION - Video by Lianchao Lan video. Pictures by Hector Retamal ///Changsha, China, Sept 20, 2020 (AFP) - The oven's warm glow and aroma of fresh bread signal the morning rush at Bach's Bakery in the central Chinese city of Changsha, but although the baking staff chatter excitedly, you could hear a pin drop.Bach's employs mainly hearing-impaired staff, whose banter over trays of pumpkin bread, Danish sausage rolls and apple turnovers is done entirely in sign language.The operation, owned and operated by German national Uwe Brutzer, provides work opportunities that are often hard to come by for his employees.Despite growing awareness of disabled needs, life remains a challenge for China's hearing impaired, officially estimated at between 20 and 30 million.It's difficult to "make good money and get an education," said Wan Ting, a 28-year-old employed by Bach's since 2017 after a previous unsuccessful stint in advertising design."It's hard (to find work) in other places. You need to know someone to be able to find good work. If not, you have few options," added Wan, hearing-impaired since birth and speaking via sign language translated by Brutzer.With their communication challenges, the hearing-impaired are often steered into work requiring skilful use of the hands, said the 50-year-old Brutzer, making the bakery a nice fit.Bach and his wife Dorothee first came to Changsha in 2002 with a German charity to help hearing-impaired children. He took over the bakery in 2011 and has since trained around 20 bakers.Most go on to work in other bakeries, restaurants or hotels.But other aspects of running a business -– hiring, working with suppliers, talking to customers –- pose major challenges to opening their own bake shops."Two of our very experienced bakers (have tried), but they both closed their shops later again. It was too much hassle for them," he said.The bright and compact bakery has had a devoted local clientele for years in the city -- known more for its peppery Hunan cuisine -- despite being hidden in a non-descript residential side alley.Bakery margins are thin, however, and Bach's has struggled, said Brutzer.But things are looking up, despite China's traumatic coronavirus lockdowns earlier this year.Moving to no-touch take-out service during the epidemic kept volumes humming, and Bach's went viral this summer thanks to a spate of feel-good Chinese media coverage.Today, a loud creak from the front door announces a new customer every few minutes and business is up five-fold from last year, said Brutzer. The challenge now is meeting demand."But that will slow down, I hope, to a good level where we can pay better salaries and people will be happier," he said.llc-dma/rma -------------------------------------------------------------