Starbucks Changes the Conversation: First Sign Language Store


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Featured Photo: Brand Channel

Thursday, November 1          By: Emily Morris

A new Starbucks store in Washington D.C. completes hundreds of orders everyday without any words spoken. This feat is not due to any amount of memorization but the preferred use of American Sign Language (ASL). Although the mode of communication is different than any other Starbucks thus far, the store holds the same fresh coffee grounds smell, mermaid logo, and drink options available in any other Starbucks.

 

This is convenient for many who attend the nearby Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf community. Not every customer who attends the new shop is Deaf or even speaks ASL, but all the employees are fluent in the language in order to make a more inclusive coffee stop.  In fact, this can be an opportunity to merge the Deaf and hearing worlds more effectively.

 

For example, the DC public library system is offering free ASL classes to in the least brush up on a few key vocabulary terms and recognize polite ways to communicate (CNN). According to John Kirsch, a member of the Deaf community and ASL professor, if there were a bump in communication, it is completely fine to bridge the gap through jotting down a conversation. Another situation could occur when someone needs to get by two people signing a conversation; unlike in spoken language, it is acceptable to walk between two signers. Being aware of the idiosyncrasies of another language is vital to being together.

 

Aside from socialization, this establishment is a new open door for many searching for a job in the Deaf community. Because of language barriers and an often lack to meet in the middle, many capable and educated Deaf people struggle to find work (CNN).

 

Starbucks is a just a chain restaurant or morning pick-me-up for many, but this shop is crossing bridges to unite entire communities. Whether such a hub is available near one or not, going the extra mile to produce an inclusive atmosphere is possible anytime.