After receiving amazing feedback from their first-ever Signing Store in Malaysia, Starbucks has announced the arrival of their first signing store in the U.S. which will provide more opportunities for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Starbucks announced today that they will be opening their first Singing store in the U.S. in Washington, D.C. this October! A team of Deaf Starbucks partners (employees) and allies have led the efforts to launch this unique store model in the U.S., which will be located at 6th & H Street near Gallaudet University, a bustling hub that is Deaf-friendly.
The idea to open a Signing Store in the U.S. was inspired by a similar Starbucks Signing Store which first opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016 with nine Deaf partners. Starbucks partners in the U.S. loved the idea and wanted to create a similar third-place experience for the Deaf and hard of hearing community in the U.S., and traveled to Malaysia last July for the first-year anniversary to understand design modifications and gain knowledge to create the best possible store experience for Deaf and hard of hearing customers in the U.S. Ultimately, an internal team of Starbucks Deaf Leadership, Accessibility office and Access Alliance played a key role to support this historical store opening. The store will be featuring exclusive artwork and a custom mug designed by a Deaf artist, and a variety of enhancements to enhance the experience.
Howard A. Rosenblum, the CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, released a statement saying,
“The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs Deaf and hard of hearing people. Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporate Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society.”
Starbucks is set to hire 20-25 Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners from across the country to work at the Signing Store with a requirement of being proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). This team of partners with a shared language of ASL and diverse experiences with the Deaf and hard of hearing community will help attract and develop talent, as well as raise awareness and understanding of the Deaf experience in the workforce, including career opportunities at Starbucks.