Starbucks has more than 8,000 stores nationwide. One of them will soon be run entirely in American Sign Language.
Starbucks’ first signing store in the United States will hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners with the requirement that they all be proficient in American Sign Language. Roughly 200 current employees self-identify as deaf or hard of hearing, according to a company spokesperson, including at Starbucks stores, roasting plants, and regional and corporate offices across the world. Now Starbucks says the store – set to open in Washington in October – will boost hiring and accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing employees and customers alike.
“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 U.S. Retail.
The store will open near Gallaudet University, a 150-year old institution and the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard of hearing students. The campus of 1,900 students is located in northeast Washington.
The store will feature art and a mug designed by a deaf artist. Deaf employees will wear aprons that show “Starbucks” spelled in sign language. Hearing employees proficient in sign language will wear pins showing they can sign.
A visual display will walk customers through their orders, and a similar display will show customers that their orders are ready, in place of baristas calling out a name or order.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Rachel Siegel