Coffee Shop Innovation Expo logo

26 & 27 NOV 2019

ExCeL LONDON

Starbucks opens its first sign language store in the US

A new Starbucks store has opened in Washington DC, and what makes it so special is that every single one of its employees is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).

Unlike all its other stores, the store provides tablets for people who prefer to write down their order, this serves as a two-way communication tool in case their customers have any questions. 

Every part of the customer experience has been meticiously designed to meet the needs of the store's customers, with most of the chairs and tables positioned low to the floor to aid visibility, lights are bright, and surfaces are matte to reduce glare.

Notably, the staff members are keen to stress that this highly progessive new store isn't about dead versus hearing people, with them opting to use ''signer'' or ''nonsigner'' in order to account for community more accurately.

It is an inclusive concept that brings together people who are deaf and hard of hearing, people who are deaf and blind, and other people as well, forming one of the few places where hearing people can experience what it is like for a deaf person to get through an everyday experience as common as ordering coffee with a language barrier.

The store has also the mission to provide employment to deaf and hard to hearing people, because many members of this community soffer from underemployment because of language barriers. But not only members of the deaf community were excited to see this new store: in general, it is considered a good way to raise awareness and get exposure to ASL and deaf culture. 

It is a great way to get hearing and deaf people together to share a cup of coffee.