When his sister graduated from high school in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Hazizi thought long and hard, what kind of life she would live. His sister is suffering from hearing impairment, in other words, she is deaf. There will not be many opportunities available despite her cheerful attitude and intelligent mind. The most likely probability is that she would stay home doing nothing.
Making matters worst Aziz is now in Cyberjaya Malaysia, thousands of miles away from her sister seeking a new means of livelihood after being unemployed in Saudi for more than 2 years.
He said “You should not feel sad when your door to rizq is closed like losing a job or source of income. Sometimes Allah guide you by closing the door and not by opening the door,”
He locked himself in his rented room and for 3 months researching on what he should do. Two weeks before Ramadhan his sister graduated from high school. But her future is uncertain because the education system does not support the advancement of deaf people.
A Birth of An Idea
That was when a spark light up in his mind. He finally got an idea of how to help his little sister by leveraging technology. He created a platform specifically targeting the deaf to learn new skills that would allow them to work from home and be respected as professionals or artists who are a master of their craft. Aziz is now the founder of a learning platform for the hearing impaired.
Just to give you an idea of what the platform is going to be like it is kind of like Udemy or Coursera. What is different about what Aziz calls is all the video lessons are in sign languages.
Aziz was kind enough to give halalop.com a sneak preview into his platform, and all you can say is it is going to be game-changer.
Being Deaf is Not Second Class Citizen
The first question that I asked was, “Why do we need a separate platform for the deaf when most videos now have subtitles?” People who are deaf can just read the subtitles, just like employees watch movies during working hours on office computers
Aziz explained that you have to appeal to the hearts and minds of deaf people to bring out the best in them.
“From my experience living with a little sister that is deaf, I know that they are stubborn in the sense that they don’t like to be treated as second best”.
Come to think of it, Aziz is right people don’t understand the deaf, the deaf is often treated as a second class citizen. They are seen as a problem, not as an asset that has creativity with a unique perspective. Companies are proud of when they are offered menial or low impact jobs to deaf people. This is not helping, it is actually an insult to their intelligence and creativity.
Deaf people don’t respond to sign language interpreters when they are put in a small box at the edge of the TV screen like the one that you see on the news. These efforts to include deaf people only make them feel second best.
Aziz said his platform is specific to the deaf so they can learn new skills. It can help deaf people position themselves as freelancers, talents and human capital to the entire world and not just filling shelves in a warehouse or convenient store.
Insisting on Social Business
Aziz has met several investors but he insists that his platform will be a social enterprise. Social enterprises seek to leverage profits to maximize benefits for society and the environment where profits are principally used to fund social programs.
He wants his platform not to be profit orientated but the focus must be helping the deaf people. “The deaf is not something that is seen as an opportunity to be taken advantage of but rather you should empower them in a way that respects their individuality and talent. That is why I insist on my social business, revenue model”
At the moment Aziz is working with the Federation of the Deaf, that support his initiatives. He is also working with universities to get recognition for the courses.
Opportunity To Do Good
Right now Aziz is working to perfect his platform before he makes it available to the public. The implication of such a platform is huge. Think of the possibilities a deaf person in one continent can empower themselves with income-generating skills and participate in the gig economy.
It will definitely change their lives. Soon the opportunities for deaf people will be more than just making handy crafts or filling shelves in a supermarket. They can actually participate in the gig economy as internet marketers, copywriters, graphic designers and etc.
Aziz welcome people who want to be part of these exciting platform that is going to be a game-changer for hearing impaired people.
We will be interviewing him again when the platform is launched, Inshaallah.
Shahfizal Musa is the editor of Halalop. He graduated with a Law degree from Thames Valley University London. He is an award-winning journalist covering topics such as human trafficking, Muslim research discoveries, and exceptional Muslims.