Starbucks Is Opening A Signing Store & Will Employ Deaf & Hard of Hearing Individuals

Starbucks is taking major strides to better serve the deaf community. The company will be opening its first U.S. all-signing store this fall, and all of the employees will be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).

In a press release issued by Starbucks on Thursday, the all-signing store will open this October in Washington D.C. and will be close to the deaf-friendly Gallaudet University. Not only is Starbucks looking to better serve the deaf and hard of hearing community, the company is also looking to advance the careers of those in the community. Starbucks will be hiring more than 20 deaf and hard of hearing employees at the location.

“The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people,” the statement said.

The all-signing store will also include merchandise and artwork created by a deaf artist and the employees’ aprons will feature an ASL design along with “I sign” pins, Hello Giggles reports.

“The store will feature exclusive artwork and a custom mug designed by a deaf artist, and a variety of enhancements to support the deaf and hard of hearing partner and customer experience. Deaf baristas will have ASL aprons embroidered by a deaf supplier, and hearing partners (employees) who sign will have an ‘I Sign’ pin,” the statement continued.

“The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs Deaf and hard of hearing people,” Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, said of the new store. “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.”

“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,” Starbucks’ executive vice president of U.S. retail, Rossann Williams, said in the release.

“This store is truly from partners, for partners, and we couldn’t have gotten here without the team of deaf partners and allies from our Accessibility office and the Access Alliance partner network who came together to bring this vision to life. I look forward to the team welcoming the community to this store in October,” Williams added.

We applaud Starbucks for taking this step to create a more inclusive environment for the deaf and hard of hearing community. May there be many more signing stores in the future.