Starbucks is gearing up to open its first ‘signing store’ in Washington DC, where baristas will be trained in sign language. The store will open near Gallaudet University, the first university designed specifically for deaf students, and will offer a range of features designed to make the experience easier for deaf customers. The store will hire deaf baristas and staff trained in sign language will wear ‘I Sign’ badges. A screen will display the name on the order, rather than the barista calling it out.
“This is a historic moment in Starbucks ongoing journey to connect with the deaf and hard of hearing community, hire and engage Deaf and hard of hearing partners, and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all,” said Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president of US Retail.
Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, was pleased with the move.
“Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society.”
The store is due to open in October.