Starbucks has taken a big step towards inclusion and equality by opening the first U.S. outlet staffed entirely with employees who are deaf or hard of hearing. Every member of the staff is able to communicate using American Sign Language.
The cafe opened on Tuesday and is located at Sixth and H streets near Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The location was chosen specifically because Gallaudet is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing people. Starbucks hired 25 people versed in ASL from all over the country.
In July, Starbucks released a statement discussing its plans:
"The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people."
Marthalee Galeota, senior manager for accessibility at Starbucks, followed up, adding:
"All the barriers are gone from being able to communicate, or from people being able to demonstrate their skills and show off the talent they have. We think this store celebrates the culture of human connection on a deep level."
The store is equipped with digital displays to serve customers who do not sign, as well as notepads for writing orders and a console with a two-way keyboard for customers and baristas to communicate through typing. Of course, you can always learn the sign for your favorite beverage.
Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf, was on hand for the grand opening.
It’s official! #StarbucksSigns. Today @Starbucks opens its first signing/ASL store in Washington DC! https://t.co/Q0GRAO28Go— Marlee Matlin (@Marlee Matlin)1540290882.0
The grand opening was a celebration for many.
Moments ago - doors opened to customers waiting outside for the first U.S signing Starbucks store #StarbucksSigns https://t.co/7W3mTC2aco— Lauren Blanchard (@Lauren Blanchard)1540291125.0
Folks were even getting some ASL lessons.
Matthew Gilsbach, manager of the new “signing @Starbucks” on H St in DC, explains how to sign “pumpkin spice latte”… https://t.co/8vg8bodXQR— Mikaela Lefrak (@Mikaela Lefrak)1540299133.0
https://t.co/UITiT4he0o— Nyle DiMarco (@Nyle DiMarco)1540305053.0
My favorite drink is a hot cappuccino. What’s your order in ASL? #StarbucksSigns. Congratulations on your first U.S… https://t.co/vuYzJSikmZ— Zach LaVine (@Zach LaVine)1540303588.0
The opening was celebrated online with the hashtag #StarbucksSigns.
We're proud to introduce our first U.S. Signing Store. Now open in Washington, D.C. 💚 #StarbucksSigns https://t.co/ZLGeKVGFJ7— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks Coffee)1540314809.0
These are the wonderful deaf and hearing partners of the new #StarbucksSigns store here in Washington DC - just a f… https://t.co/CJqPmNWHBF— Marlee Matlin (@Marlee Matlin)1540291674.0
I just realized this signing store Starbucks will finally spell my name right RIP: Kyle, Niles, Nyles, Nial, and… https://t.co/NcffjSpUsi— Nyle DiMarco (@Nyle DiMarco)1540324060.0
The #StarbucksSigns for the week is #coffee. @Starbucks https://t.co/wyjrF9l6kN— Marlee Matlin (@Marlee Matlin)1540291062.0
So proud of our partners for opening Starbucks first U.S. Signing Store! This store celebrates Deaf and hard of hea… https://t.co/kEjgiuIe2V— Kevin Johnson (@Kevin Johnson)1540307632.0
I wish my Papa were alive to see this. He would be so proud! I can’t wait to tell my Grandma ❤️ #ASL #CODA #GCODA… https://t.co/gYVCvCkCml— GFVV Mommy (@GFVV Mommy)1540297671.0
Starbucks baristas take your order in ASL. A print menu in English w/ possible orders by the cashier. A chalkboard… https://t.co/r5MnIiQ1lY— Dr Julie Ann Hochgesang (@Dr Julie Ann Hochgesang)1540323738.0
Washington, DC is a city of love, inclusion, and diversity. We are proud to be home of the first U.S. Signing… https://t.co/QDI9Z0EfX0— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@Mayor Muriel Bowser)1540309356.0
It’s with deep appreciation and gratitude that we celebrate all partners that had a hand in bringing the first U.S.… https://t.co/upJ2AfdTJ8— Camille Hymes (@Camille Hymes)1540320929.0
Thrilled to see Starbucks first ASL store! Doubly thrilled that its in NE DC. A shout out to nearby @GallaudetU wh… https://t.co/02dKmi7zSu— Paulette Aniskoff (@Paulette Aniskoff)1540325945.0
Now, how do you sign Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte?