WASHINGTON – Starbucks has more than 8,000 stores nationwide. One of them will soon be completely operated in American Sign Language.
Starbucks, the 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 speak American Sign Language. Around 200 current employees identify themselves as deaf or hard-of-hearing, including Starbucks stores, roasters, and regional and corporate offices around the world, according to a company spokesperson. Now, Starbucks says the deal, which opens in Washington in October, will promote attitudes and accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and customers alike.
"This is a historic moment in Starbuck's on-going journey to the deaf and hard-of-hearing as you hear, engage and engage with deaf and hard-of-hearing partners and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and friendly," said Ross Williams, Starbucks Executive Vice President of US Retail.
The store is opened near Gallaudet University, a 1
The store will feature art and a mug designed by a deaf artist. Deaf employees wear aprons bearing "Starbucks" written in sign language. Listen Employees who speak sign language carry pins that sign that they can sign.
A visual ad leads customers through their orders, and a similar ad shows customers that their orders are ready, instead of baristas proclaiming a name or order
Howard Rosenblum, chief executive officer of the National Association of Deaf that American Sign Language is one of the most used languages in the country and is not limited to deaf people. He said the store is an opportunity for companies like Starbucks to bring people together and learn how to communicate with each other, whether they are deaf or audible.
"Starbucks – First Store can show other companies that deaf people are good for the economy and can increase its market share," Rosenblum said. "Hiring the deaf or disabled should not be understood as charity, but as a way to improve the reach of a business in different segments of the market."
In 2014, Washington City Paper showed how the Gallaudet neighborhood has grown, including for deaf and hard of hearing guests. Restaurants and bars employ more workers who speak sign language and even a sign language night.
The store reflects Starbucks' first signing store worldwide, opened in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, dedicated, trained and trained deaf employees, taught sign language to listen to employees, and opened with nine deaf partners  At the Malaysian store, customers order through a menu card that they distribute to a barista. Dove partner hand write notes to interact with customers. Customers see that their drinks are ready when the screen displays a number that matches one.
A video announcing the signing store shows deaf Starbucks employees how long they've worked at Starbucks. A former associate named Kevin, blind and deaf and working as a consultant to the Washington Signing Store, said a group of Starbucks employees traveled to Malaysia in 2017 to learn how to model this store in the United States.
Inclusion of deaf customers and partners is another goal that Starbucks has announced in recent months. After arresting two young black men in a Philadelphia store in mid-April, Starbucks said it would shut down 8,000 stores across the country for an afternoon of racially-motivated training by the end of May. Starbucks also created new policies that allow customers to sit in stores and use the restroom without making a purchase. They indicated when employees should (and should) call 911.
Following the training, Starbucks committed to monthly training over the next year to address issues related to prejudice and discrimination. However, it remains to be seen how Starbucks will achieve the "complete racial equality" demanded by external experts.