"This is my first job and it has changed my life," says Robert Edmond, team member in Receive/Ship at Walgreens Valparaiso, Ind. return center. "I've learned a lot of skills, and I'm very happy to be working here." Edmond, who is deaf and uses sign language to communicate, joined Walgreens in February 2007. He answered questions for this story through an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
When Edmond started at the return center, he scanned boxes in the Primary Sort department. After a successful 18 months there, he transferred to Receive/Ship as a forklift operator. He appreciated this opportunity because some companies won't allow people with hearing loss to drive vehicles. And now Edmond operates two - a forklift and a reach truck.
"It's an excellent job with good pay and benefits," says Edmond. "I feel lucky to be here."
"Robert is extremely safety conscious," says Ted Peng, Edmond's function manager. "Early on, I asked him how he knows I'm behind him when he's in the forklift. In a written note, he explained he can see me in his rearview mirror and is always aware of his surroundings - whether he's operating a forklift or driving his car to work."
To better communicate with their team member, several of Edmond's co-workers are learning some ASL phrases. "Although we don't know too much sign language, communication isn't a problem," says Peng. "Through facial expressions and gestures, everyone catches on to what's happening. And Robert is no different than any other team member."
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