Diversity in the workplace: An interview with jeweller Ditebogo Sesana

Diversity is important in any workplace and it means more than just making sure different genders, cultures and races are represented. Encouraging an organisational culture that is accepting of everyone, where each person feels valued enough to contribute, is a fundamental part of good business management.

Disability does not mean a lack of ability to perform in a role; instead it’s an opportunity for differently-abled individuals to learn skills, add value, and empower themselves in an integrated workplace environment towards a common goal.

I spoke to Ditebogo Sesana; a Deaf jeweller and a good friend of mine of nearly 10 years. We first met in Lenasia while he was learning about the industry, and I was his novice interpreter. Today he proudly works full-time in a reputable jewellery company, applying all the knowledge acquired over the years. His support and often brutal feedback has contributed to my successful journey as a professional interpreter.

1) Tell us more about yourself and what you do.

I’m from Pretoria, Soshanguve but currently live in Alexandra. I’m a triplet with my brothers and the only Deaf person in my family. My hobbies include playing soccer and spending time with friends. I work at Rare Earth Creations in Randburg; I create, polish and set different jewellry pieces. I’ve been employed here for 8 years and I’m the only Deaf person in the company.

2) How do you communicate with your Team?

We write everything on pen and paper. Our communication is work related and we only discuss instructions needed about jewellery pieces. My literacy skills enable me to understand what is expected of me and I also express any ideas, questions or concerns in writing if I need to.

3) Why is there no SASL interpreter at the workplace?

I’m the only Deaf person here at the company, so to have an interpreter just for one person is not viable. Unfortunately, management also doesn’t have the budget to employ an interpreter at the company. The written communication seems to work well for everyone and I’ve learned to adapt well to the working environment. The Team is satisfied with my performance.

4) Can Deaf and Hearing people work together in the same environment?

Absolutely! There is no difference between us because we can perform and complete the task – sometimes better than our hearing colleagues. What’s important is respect, a good attitude and willingness to learn about people from different backgrounds. Teamwork helps us to work together and focus on the task at hand.

5) Do you think more people with disability should be employed as jewellers?

Yes, we are equally skilled as anyone else. What matters is doing a good job and completing the task; people should learn to embrace differences and keep an open mind in the workplace – then it will be easy to build lasting relationships based on respect. For now, I am the only Deaf person working here – hopefully this changes.

Andrew Greenberg, founder of Contract Recruiter, explains some benefits of employing Deaf and HH employees:

Attention to detail

Jewellery making is very intricate; and it requires much attention to small details that affect the look and feel of the product. Deaf people usually have superior visual ability and hand-eye co ordination needed for handling delicate stones.


The barriers of employment are high for people living with disability due to inaccessible environments, lack of awareness from the employer, and sometimes misconceptions about the type of disability. As a result, when they do find suitable employment, they tend to stay longer because they value the opportunity given to them to earn a living and become independent.

A unique perspective into the workplace

From communication, accessibility, and even culture – people with disability are often vocal about recommending better ways of embracing diversity in the workplace. They challenge the Team to respect differences and overcome any false stereotypes about disability. This approach creates a colourful and vibrant workplace.


Diversity is an attitude we hold towards a certain idea or a group of people which reveals itself in the systems we create in spaces. When truly embraced, an incredible opportunity arises to empower everyone through knowledge and acceptance.

Ditebogo is a great example of how one can use their skills and passion to create a better life for themselves. Being Deaf has not stopped him from achieving his goals, instead it has inspired others to work hard and believe that anything is possible. I’m excited about his future success!

By Yellow Owl

Welcome to Interpreter Insider, so glad you could join us! As an Insider you’ll be a member of this limited group of like-minded thinkers with exclusive knowledge about the ins and outs of the interpreting industry – and other related topics. You will have access to insights, experiences, tips and Yellow Owl's personal take on what the future of SASL interpreting may look like. Thuli Zikalala is the founder of Yellow Owl. This blog is a reflection of her bold decisions made about a year ago that led her to this very moment. It is a collection of the lessons learnt along her journey. Enjoy!

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