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Starbucks To Open Its First Deaf-Friendly Branch In Washington, DC

Travelers Today       By    MJ De Castro

Updated: Jul 24, 2018 09:57 AM EDT

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Starbucks is taking a step forward into making its store inclusive for people hard-of-hearing and deaf people. The chain is opening its first deaf-friendly store in Washington, which will hire at least 20 staff fluent in ASL.

(Photo: Jan Vašek | Pixabay)

World-famous coffee chain Starbucks is set to open a new store where all staff will be able to communicate with its customers using sign language.

Starbuck's first deaf-friendly store in the country will hire around 20 people who are proficient in American Sign Language, or ASL. According to Starbucks, this move would give more employment opportunities for the deaf and people who have other hearing disabilities. This is part of the store's undying commitment to be inclusive, accessible, and diverse.

The newest store of its kind will be situated in Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the only university in the world which is designed for hard-of-hearing and deaf students. Many businesses in the area are trying their best to work with the deaf community by offering deaf-friendly services.

Promoting Inclusivity And Accessibility

Tons of people were delighted by Starbucks' new venture. Chief executive of the National Association for the Deaf in the United States, Howard A Rosenblum, said that the coffee shop has made an innovative approach to incorporating the deaf culture, which will increase not only employment opportunities, but also the accessibility for the hard-of-hearing and deaf people.

The British Deaf Association also commended Starbucks and it hopes that other businesses would also be inspired with the move. The organization added that in UK, there is still so much to do for the British and Irish sign-language users who are not given equality of access with people who can hear across many sectors.

The store also sparked social media interest. Marlee Matlin, Deaf Oscar-winning actress, even tweeted that she could not wait to order her hot chai latte in sign. Deaf actress and co-creator of deaf-led TV series, This Close, Shoshannah Stern, also expressed her enthusiasm on Twitter.

The company was also met with challenges. Many people questioned why some stores do not have a sign-language training program for its staff, and urged them to also do something for those with physical disabilities.

Deaf-friendly Business Ventures

However, this is not the coffee chain's first store where the employees are users of the sign language. The store already has a deaf-friendly store in Malaysia.

Furthermore, other stores also do the same thing. As a matter of fact, all the staff of Mozzeria, a U.S. pizza restaurant, know sign language. Many menu items in Mozzeria include sign-language images to aid people communicate, and Starbucks will be also be offering its customers alternative options to communicate when they are ordering their favorite coffee.

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