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Starbucks to open its first US sign-language store

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Starbucks is due to open a new store in the US where all staff will be able to communicate with customers in sign language. The store, the company's first of its kind in the US, will hire at least 20 staff, all of whom need to be proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). Starbucks said the move would provide "employment opportunities" for deaf and hard-of-hearing people as part of the company's "commitment to inclusion, accessibility and diversity".It won't be the first store where all employees are sign-language users. Starbucks already has a sign language-friendly branch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while the entire staff of Mozzeria, a pizza restaurant in the US, are also sign language users.
Skip Twitter post by @Starbucks
Coming this fall in Washington, D.C.: our first U.S. Signing Store, creating jobs and driving greater connection with the Deaf and hard of hearing community: https://t.co/aOWJKErx35 pic.twitter.com/39N0HuIGVL— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) July 19, 2018
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End of Twitter post by @Starbucks
While the menu at Mozzeria includes some sign-language images to help customers communicate, Starbucks will also offer customers alternative communication options for ordering and receiving their coffee.The new store will be located near Gallaudet University, the world's only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, in an area where a variety of businesses are learning to work with the deaf community and are providing deaf-friendly services.
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Many people have applauded the announcement. Howard A Rosenblum, the chief executive of the National Association for the Deaf in the US, told the Washington Post: "Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating deaf culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing people."The British Deaf Association echoed his sentiments, adding: "There is still a long way to go, particularly in the UK where deaf British and Irish sign-language users are not afforded parity of access with hearing consumers across many sectors. We hope that other businesses look to Starbucks' example."The move has also been discussed on social media.Deaf Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin welcomed the development, tweeting: "Can't wait to order my hot chai latte in sign." Shoshannah Stern, a deaf actress and co-creator of This Close, a deaf-led TV series, also tweeted her enthusiasm for the new store.
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OMG OMG OMG I can’t wait to order my daily doppio in the language I’ve used daily since I was able![/img]
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End of Twitter post by @Shoshannah7
However, some have questioned why other stores don't have a sign-language training programme and asked for every store to hire signing employees.
Skip Twitter post by @FayeJCook_
Why not just enrol employees into a sign language training program so all employees can learn it instead of building a singular store that only deals with deaf people?— ???? (@FayeJCook_) July 19, 2018
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End of Twitter post by @FayeJCook_
Skip Twitter post by @ayoj_o
Great effort, but how about instead of opening one store that the majority of deaf people will not be able to access, you hire or train at least one person at every Starbucks who knows how to sign fluently? Much cheaper and greater accessibility if you ask me https://t.co/Ur6vbyDAzo— Justin Osofisan (@ayoj_o) July 19, 2018
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Another tweeter wanted to know what the company was going to do for those with physical disabilities.
Skip Twitter post by @soydepumas05
About time! How about those with physical disabilities?? Some only have revolving doors— Ceecii (@soydepumas05) July 20, 2018
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End of Twitter post by @soydepumas05
However, the author of this piece - a native British Sign Language user - would still choose the place with the best coffee over the barista's ability to sign.
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