Hearing-Impaired Workers Find a Home at Starbucks
Everyone feels happier and more comfortable when they are recognized by their environment for their individuality, which is why Starbucks’ new location is so important.
This location is not just another coffee shop in Washington D.C. It may be another Starbucks, but the sign is spelled S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S in the hand symbols for American Sign Language (ASL).
The stores is run by 24 deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing employees and the store is designed towards accessibility and generating employment prospects for the deaf community.
In addition to the workers, the store has been specifically modeled to celebrate deaf culture. One wall is covered by a mural by Tiqiao Wang, a deaf artist who is a prominent member of the Gallaudet University faculty, which is just blocks away.
While exclusively employing staff who are all conversant in ASL, their focus on accessibility of technology and service is unparalleled. The store was modeled to maximize natural lighting and lines of sight, keeping in mind the needs of the hard-of-hearing.
Adam Novsam, a Starbucks utility analyst, was given a tour two nights before the store was set to open. As he walked down H Street to see the vibrant colors of the mural which celebrates deaf culture, he said, “The vibrancy moved me. It made me stop in my tracks. And it gave me tears.”
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Employees take an order at Starbucks first U.S. signing in D.C. (Joshua Trujillo/Starbucks)