Starbucks Is Opening a Signing Store for the Deaf Community

Jul 19, 2018 at 3:32 p.m. ET

Starbucks has had their share of controversy this year, with everything from backlash over their straw ban to a very necessary shut down of their stores for racial bias training. But whether they're trying to reduce their use of plastic or create higher-education opportunities for their employees, at least they're always trying to improve.

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Their latest move? Opening a store in Washington, D.C., catered to the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. Everyone who works at the store will be fluent in American Sign Language. Deaf employees will wear aprons embroidered with American Sign Language, and hearing employees will wear "I Sign" pins.

The store will incorporate more visual elements into their design for ordering and picking up beverages and will be using low-glare reflective surfaces throughout.

What's really cool is that Starbucks is working with companies owned by deaf people to bring the store to life. The aprons will be embroidered by a deaf supplier, while art and merchandise sold at the store will be designed by deaf artists. In that way, they're not just making a store that's more welcoming to deaf and hard-of-hearing customers but also helping support small businesses owned by deaf people.

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Starbucks opened their first signing store in Malaysia in 2016, but this is their first signing store stateside. Located at 6th & H St. in D.C., the new store is near Gallaudet University, a university for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

You can visit the Starbucks signing store when it opens in October — just in time to get a seasonally appropriate pumpkin spice latte.

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