In one of the Washington coffee shops, all employees can speak American Sign Language.
The coffee shop is located next to the University of Gallaudet, an educational institution for deaf and hearing impaired students. The company will hire 20-25 deaf and hearing impaired for store personnel. Everyone must be proficient in American Sign Language.
— Starbucks News (@Starbucksnews) July 19, 2018
— Lauren Blanchard (@LaurenBlanch12) October 23, 2018
The space will be focused on the deaf, including artwork and projects on circles created by deaf artists, a tablet system where customers can write, not speak (or sign) an order, and a screen where the client’s name flashes when their order is ready.
The store also received brilliant acclaim from Oscar-winning actress Marley Matlin, who is deaf and visited the store on opening day.
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) October 23, 2018
At the checkout, guests begin to figure out what is going on. Some try to point to menu items, while others use tablets that Starbucks have provided to people who prefer to record their orders.
Pamela Pipes, who hears a barista who has been trained as an interpreter, moved to DC just to work on this Starbucks. Although Pipes can speak English, she “turns off” her voice when she comes to work.
Several barista note that the deaf and hearing impaired community suffers from chronic underemployment, and qualified candidates are trying to find a job where the language barrier will not be a problem. The coffeehouse news was also exciting for members of the local deaf and hearing impaired community, especially students from MSSD, a high school for the deaf, which is adjacent to Gallaudet.