Starbucks to open first US store staffed by employees who know sign language

Starbucks to open first US store staffed by employees who know sign language
© Starbucks

Starbucks is opening its first U.S. cafe staffed by employees who are partially or fully deaf, allowing customers to order in American Sign Language (ASL).

An existing Starbucks near Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., will be converted into a Signing Store in October, the company announced Thursday.

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The coffee shop at Sixth and H Streets NE will be staffed by roughly 20 people who are proficient in ASL.

"The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people," Starbucks said in a statement.

Deaf baristas will wear specialty aprons, featuring signs spelling out "Starbucks." Hearing baristas will wear “I Sign” pins.

This is the second signing store the company is unveiling after opening its first one in Malaysia in 2016.

The D.C. store will also be outfitted with deaf-friendly features like low-glare reflective services.