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Starbucks to open cafe geared toward deaf community

Starbucks to open cafe geared toward deaf community

First U.S. ‘Signing Store’ will open in Washington, D.C. later this year

In October, Starbucks plans to open its second “Signing Store,” its first in the U.S., that caters to deaf and hard of hearing customers. All employees at the Washington, D.C., location will be fluent in American Sign Language, the company said Thursday morning.

The Seattle-based chain, which opened its first Signing Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016, said it will hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing, as well as hearing employees to work at the Washington D.C. store.

“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, said in a statement.

Starbucks said it chose the 6th & H Street cafe, near Gallaudet University, because the area is “a bustling hub that is deaf-friendly.”

The store has been designed to serve and support the deaf and hard of hearing community, Starbucks said. It will feature exclusive artwork and a custom mug designed by a deaf artist.  Embroidered aprons will come from a deaf supplier.  Hearing employees who can sign will be distinguish themselves by wearing an “I Sign” pin.  

The store will also have an open environment and low-glare reflective surfaces to foster better communication.

“For customers new to sign language, the store will offer communication options for ordering and receiving beverages at the hand-off counter,” Starbucks said.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven

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