People & Perspectives

A deaf pharmacist in a masked world

COVID-19 exacerbated communications challenges for deaf people like Olga Serna Pérez. Learn how the pharmacy advisor has been able to stay connected to patients with support from her Farmacias Benavides team.

By Sarah Cason
Olga Serna Perez

If your main method of communication is to read lips, imagine the barriers created when, suddenly, the world is masked.

It’s a reality that Olga Serna Pérez had no choice but to face as a deaf person living through the pandemic. To compound the difficulties, she’s in a customer-facing job at Farmacias Benavides, WBA’s chain of retail pharmacies in Mexico, serving as a pharmacy advisor and occasionally assisting in the photo department. Pérez has been deaf since birth, but nothing can prepare a person—disability or not—for having to entirely relearn to communicate.

Pérez has been with Farmacias Benavides for more than two decades, and while she’s always had support from her team, she’s felt especially grateful for her colleagues during COVID-19. Without the ability to read lips, Pérez can use sign language or request assistance from her team members to communicate with customers and bridge gaps when needed. As a result of their inclusive behavior, Pérez feels empowered to be herself both at and outside of work.

“The opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences is the best benefit you can have at work,” she says. “When we are encouraged to break down stigmas, we can explore other perspectives and get to know the best in people.”

Watch as Pérez embarks on her daily routine and interacts with customers and patients from her community in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León.

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