Starbucks just opened an all sign language store in Washington, D.C.
An all sign language Starbucks opening in Washington, D.C. and it's truly groundbreaking
Starbucks Newsroom posted today about their newest store in Washington, D.C. where all of the communication is done through sign language. Upon entering the store, it's immediately different from other Starbucks stores: there is no ambient music playing, no one is speaking, and there's a chalkboard with the ASL vocabulary word of the week (this week's word is "Coffee").
Matthew Gilsbach is the Starbucks store manager and was born deaf. In fact, the entire barista team is either deaf, hard of hearing, or a hearing partner. The baristas even wear special aprons that have the word "Starbucks" spelled out in sign. The Starbucks is located near Gallaudet University in D.C. which is a university specifically geared towards the education of Deaf students and those who are hard of hearing. To have a Starbucks near the university makes this part of Washington, D.C. tangibly unique and special.
Crystal Harris, a barista who is hard of hearing and a doctorate student at Gallaudet, says that "this store will represent what it means to bring communities together. All of them." Joey Lewis, another barista born in Korea, but raised in Iowa, is a graduate student at Gallaudet - he hopes to one day teach history to deaf students. Lewis says he is "excited to be part of a signing store and to share with my students someday and say I was part of the first Deaf Starbucks in America...I'm most excited about showing what a Deaf-centered business can look like."
As an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, it can be difficult to find employment and this Starbucks will not only provide jobs for those individuals but also open up a career potential. Another barista, by the name of Kylie Garcia, says, "don't see me as a risk, see me as an opportunity. Starbucks has overcome this. Here there are no barriers. I love being able to sign and communicate freely. I love the vibe, the energy and the opportunity to expose other to Deaf culture."
For those of us who don’t speak sign language - the Starbucks also has tablets where customers can write down their order. This Starbucks is truly a Starbucks for all. We'll admit, we don't know that much sign language but we want to visit this Starbucks store in Washington, D.C. and learn a word or two.
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