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Deaf diesel mechanic excels at Fuso Geelong


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Power Torque Magazine  /  October 26, 2016

Chris Linahan, age 19, is deaf and communicates using Australian Sign Language called Auslan. He is in the second year of his diesel mechanical apprenticeship at Geelong Fuso, where he has quickly become part of the team.

Chris took to the stage at a recent black-tie event when Fuso Geelong and employment provider MatchWorks took out the inaugural Innovation in Disability – Team Award at the prestigious National Employment Services Association (NESA) National Employment Awards for Excellence.

Although he admits he suffered from stage fright, Chris managed to explain how much he enjoys his role at Fuso Geelong and how he goes on about his job just like anyone else.

“I just like working with mechanical things,” Chris says.

“I very much enjoy working at Fuso Geelong. There is plenty of work to do, it is certainly busier than where I have worked in the past,” he says.

“The team I work with is really great.”

Several of his workmates have learnt Auslan in order to communicate and Fuso Geelong dealer principal, Richard Furnari, will also take up lessons soon. Chris employs an Auslan interpreter, Therese Lewis, who comes to the workshop two to three times a week to interpret interactions between the team.

He is also able to communicate with other workers and customers by using a special iPad app developed by Fuso Geelong.

“This way, Chris can report to customers,” Richard says.

“We want him to report the condition of a truck and any problems that he has seen to the customer and the customer can give him the instruction to fix those. This way he has got the independence in the workshop; he doesn’t need a second person to do it for him,” he says.

Chris is grateful for the opportunity to show what he can do for Fuso Geelong, which was not put-off by the fact he is deaf.

“I am really good at working on trucks and that notion that I couldn’t do it because I am deaf is just silly really,” he says.

Chris is able to use his sense of feel in the workshop and can tell if a truck is approaching by picking up on vibrations coming through the concrete slab.

Feeling vibrations also allowed him to tune motorbikes in a previous job. Chris is a car and bike enthusiast and spends much of his free time working on a rock-crawling Ford Maverick 4WD, which he takes camping, and also drives a beloved Holden VL Commodore. Chris also rides his trail bike when he gets the chance.

Richard is pleased to have been able to give Chris an opportunity in the workshop and views him a valuable member of the team, describing him as a ‘long term prospect’. “It’s fortunate that we are able to make a difference,” Richard says.

The Chief Executive Officer of NESA, Sally Sinclair, says Fuso Geelong and MatchWorks are worthy winners of the inaugural Innovation in Disability – Team Award.

“This award is a great tribute to Fuso Geelong and MatchWorks, and shows how employers can totally change people’s lives and improve opportunities for people with a disability when they invest the time to create truly inclusive workplaces,” she says.

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MRS,Mack, Paul,This is the 1st post I saw and I am  inspired almost beyond words! This young man could have used his deafness as an excuse to not achieve to his fullest ability,But it seems he almost ignores it! Also it has been said that when one of a person's senses is less than what it would normally be they compensate by sharpening another(his ability to tune a bike by vibration and feel an approaching truck!) I suspect that in Chris's case personal imitative had a hand! Kudos to everyone involved! An interesting paradox is involved as well! Modern technology helped Chris communicate(The I phone app) but long before any technology existed native people could track an animal where the average person today would see no trail at all because our senses have been dulled(We don't need to track an animal to eat today!) We just get in our car and go to the market!😁

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I have a neighbor who was born deaf. He is in his late 20' s  farms for me and 500 other acres and works full time as a journeyman electrician . Good to see someone like this instead of being on some government program as so many who do not need help are.

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