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All Employees at New Starbucks Can Sign

by Shelley D. Hutchins
written by
Finger Spelling the Alphabet in American Sign Language (ASL)

This October, Starbucks plans to open its first store staffed completely by people who know American Sign Language (ASL). The store will focus on hiring people with hearing loss, according to an article in The Washington Post, but will also accept applications from people who can hear as long as they can fluently sign. In addition to hiring employees who are able to sign, the store will also use a visual display to confirm orders and indicate when they are ready.

Starbucks already operates a location in Malaysia where employees know Malaysian Sign Language.

The store will be located within walking distance of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Gallaudet, founded in 1864, has nearly 2,000 students who take classes taught using both ASL and written English. Many businesses in this neighborhood are tapping into the Gallaudet student population by hiring people with hearing loss and teaching employees how to sign.

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The company hired an artist who is deaf to design a mug for the store, as well as art for the walls.

“This is a historic moment in Starbucks’ ongoing journey to connect with the deaf and hard of hearing community, hire and engage deaf and hard of hearing partners, and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all,” Rossann Williams—Starbucks’ executive vice president of U.S. retail—says in the article.


Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for the ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org

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