Starbucks Opening First Ever Sign Language-Friendly Store


Starbucks has made coffee easily accessible to millions around the U.S., and while we’ve probably gotten used to the seamless Starbucks experience, it is not that easy for the deaf community.

With that in mind, Starbucks is opening its first U.S. Signing Store in Washington D.C., where all employees will be fluent in American Sign Language.

“This is a historic moment in Starbucks’ ongoing journey to connect with the Deaf and hard of hearing community,” Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president of U.S. Retail said.


The store itself is a pre-existing Starbucks that will be re-opened as the Signing Store, offering employment opportunities to the deaf, hard of hearing, and individuals familiar with ASL.

The inspiration for the store actually came from Malaysia, which opened the first sign language-friendly store in 2016. Around 75 percent of the Malaysian store is actually deaf, and orders are handled DMV-style, where order numbers appear on a TV screen when ready to be picked up.

There have been moments where Baristas have taken things into their own hands, learning sign for their customers. For example, in Leesburg, Virginia, there was a Starbucks employee who learned to sign specifically to help deaf patron who frequented the store.

In a Florida Starbucks, they actually had a system in place that allowed the hearing impaired to order at the drive-thru. When pulling up to order, the menu board turned into a live screen, where barista Katie Wyble, who was fluent in ASL, appeared and took the order for deaf customers.

The baristas at the Washington D.C. store will be wearing “I Sign” pins on their aprons, and there will merch inspired by deaf artists available in the store, as well.

The Signing Store is expected to open in October 2018, and is bound to offer a quieter, less hectic experience than one might get at any other Starbucks.


New Sign Language Restaurant Only Takes Orders In American Sign Language


Brilliant idea alert: later this month, a new restaurant will be opening up in Toronto called “Signs” on 558 Yonge Street, which promises to be Canada’s first “deaf” restaurant where customers are asked to order their dinners using only American Sign Language.

Staffed primarily by deaf servers, the restaurant hopes to provide “a kind of community service for a deaf population that often struggles to find employment in a speech-oriented workforce,” reports The Star. The idea came to owner Anjan Manikumar while managing a Boston Pizza. After realizing one of his regular customers was deaf, he sought to learn American Sign Language (ASL) in order to provide a better experience for his guest.

At Signs, customers will have access to an ASL “cheat book” to help them order from Signs’s Canadian and international food menu, which includes everything from chicken salad to game. Rabbit, for example, looks like this. And while pointing is technically allowed, it isn’t encouraged, as the goal is that Signs provides a place where the deaf can feel welcome and the hearing are able to learn about the deaf community.