Starbucks is getting ready to open their first U.S. signing store location for the deaf and hearing impaired in Washington D.C. Inspired by their first signing store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which opened in 2016, Starbucks is continuing their mission to promote accessibility, diversity and employment for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The signing store will open in an area of D.C. that is known as a deaf friendly neighborhood near Gallaudet University-- a liberal arts university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Many restaurants and local businesses in the area cater to the Gallaudet community. The existing Starbucks store at 6th and H Street NE will re-open in October with a newly revamped makeover which will include an open environment for communication. They are incorporating aspects of "Deaf Space"-- the creation of space which enhances maximum visual access and encourages a relaxed and positive atmosphere for signing interaction.
The location will also feature exclusive artwork, a custom mug designed by a deaf artist, and a variety of enhancements to support the deaf and hard of hearing employee and the customer experience. Starbucks plans to hire 20-25 deaf, hard of hearing, hearing impaired and those with hearing from across the country with a mandatory requirement that all be proficient in American Sign Language (ASL).
Deaf baristas will have ASL aprons embroidered by a deaf supplier, and hearing employees who will wear an “I Sign” pin. For customers who aren’t fluent in ASL, this Starbucks location will offer communication options for ordering and receiving beverages at the hand-off counter. All these ideas that were created and put into motion are sponsored by the Deaf Leadership of the Starbucks Access Alliance.
"The National Association of the Deaf commends Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs deaf and hard of hearing people,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. “Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to initiating and incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, while at the same time educating and enlightening society."
"Creating a culture of belonging, empowerment, inclusion and diversity" is what Starbucks seeks to achieve. Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit and embracing diversity helps to encourage innovation, economic and human growth, and new ideas."
MaxiAids encourages and supports the deaf and hearing impaired community. Look to MaxiAids for products for the deaf, aids for the hearing impaired, alerting devices and hard of hearing products that assist in an active, productive lifestyle. --Audrey Leonard