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  • Chris McMillan

Shanghai's deaf courier team delivers good news for millions of disabled workers in China

Asia One

31st August 2020

Shanghai's deaf courier team delivers good news for millions of disabled workers in China

Hello, I am a deaf courier. Your package has arrived,” a voice comes out from Xu Shengliang’s mobile phone as he presses the doorbell of a residential building.

Xu is one of tens of thousands of couriers in Shanghai , driving electric bikes through streets and lanes and climbing several storeys to deliver goods ordered from online shopping websites to their new owners.

Unlike most other couriers, Xu is deaf and unable to speak to the customers – the voice from his mobile was recorded by a colleague.

He is among 40 members of China’s first deaf courier team which was established in Shanghai six months ago after the pandemic began and online shopping flourished.

At 6.30am every day, Xu and his fellow couriers begin their work by unloading parcels from trucks and sorting them. Two hours later, they start delivering the packages one by one.

Xu, 27, who started his delivery career at Wusheng Courier three months ago, is now a seasoned courier delivering more than 200 packages a day, earning him 8,000 yuan (S$1,600) a month, double his previous income.

“I am happy with this job,” Xu told the “South China Morning Post” through a sign language interpreter.

“What attracts me most is that I am treated equally here. My non-disabled colleagues endure the same hardships I do and we are paid according to the same standard.” Couriers earn 1.5 yuan (22 US cents)for each package delivered.

As a disabled person, Xu is fortunate to have this job. In China, with a disabled population of over 80 million people – including 30 million of employment age – it is still difficult for people with disabilities to get hired, let alone find jobs that give them a sense of equality.

The employment rate for people with disabilities is roughly half that of non-disabled people, while the income of their families stands at 60 per cent of those without disability, according to Yang Lixiong, a labour and human resources professor at Renmin University of China.

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