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  • Chris McMillan

Blind barista's dream comes true

China Daily

17th July 2022

Blind barista's dream comes true

Yin Tianbao, a 23-year-old blind man in Shanghai, had long dreamed of becoming a full-time barista. And that dream finally came true on Saturday when he became the head of a newly openly coffee shop in the city's Pudong New Area.

For Tianbao, the dream came true thanks to Rhea, one of the largest customized vending machine producers in the world. The Italian company designed, manufactured and donated a coffee machine with blind-friendly interface.

It is a simple technology repurposed for Rhea's existing machines. A touch panel of the coffee machine now has six embossed forms, each corresponding to a different coffee drink to replace the original digital screen.

A square is for espresso, a circle for double espresso, a triangle for hot Americano, a diamond for Americano at room temperature, a star for hot water, and a heart for water at room temperature.

To spare Tianbao from accidentally activating the wrong selection, Rhea configured a verification mechanism, by which the same command needs to be pressed twice for the machine to start.

"Thank you Rhea for donating and customizing a wonderful coffee machine for my café," said Tianbao, now a partial owner of the cafe, Hinichijou Coffee, located in the China Resources Times Square, a bustling business and commercial area in Pudong.

"While my community doesn't have many job choices, my goal is to set an example for others to stand up and operate as independent small business owners."

"I hope to see more blind folks like myself become baristas," said Tianbao. His twin brother Yin Tianyou, also blind, works in the new store, too. Both graduated from the Shanghai School for the Blind.


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