Starbucks just opened its first store in the U.S. that specifically caters to deaf customers in Washington, D.C.
The Starbucks “Signing Store” is located near Gallaudet University, a private school for deaf students and others with partial hearing loss.
The coffee shop is staffed only by people fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf baristas wear green aprons that say “Starbucks” in ASL while other baristas wear pins that say “I Sign.”
Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf, visited the store on its opening day.
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) October 23, 2018
She hailed the move when it was first announced by Starbucks in July, tweeting “Bravo” and “I can’t wait to order my hot chair latte (non fat) in sign.”
Bravo Starbucks!!! Starbucks to Open First U.S. Signing Store https://t.co/pYGNk1nj6w
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) July 19, 2018
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) July 20, 2018
Customers who don’t know ASL can use a tablet to order at the store.
Each week the store posts a “sign of the week” that teaches customers a new sign in ASL. This week’s board shows how to sign the word “coffee.”
The Signing Store also features a custom mug and artwork that was designed by Yiqiao Wang, a deaf artist and adjunct professor at Gallaudet University.
The store was designed to help foster easy communication and is equipped with low glare reflective surfaces, open spaces and visual displays for customers to check and pick up orders.
Although this Starbucks store is the first in the U.S., a Starbucks Signing Store opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Caterina Adreano