On July 19, 2018 Starbucks announced it was going to open it’s first US Sign Language Store in Washington DC. The store will be located near Gallaudet University, which has been long-time known for its Deaf Community and Deaf Culture. The CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, Howard A. Rosenblum says, “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, while at the same time educating and enlightening society.”
I’ve read opinion articles since this announcement expressing frustration because the hearing impaired individuals were “skipped over.” However to be fair, the press release did state that customers should expect a distinctive retail experience with unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing people.
Although I love the inclusivity, I’m most excited to see how this might translate to stores across the nation. In my current role, if I’m not in a customer’s office then I can usually be found at a coffee shop or my car. I tend to frequent Starbucks because, like any great chain, I know what to expect (and the free wifi). Over the years one thing I can always count on is a lot of noise within the store. From the hustle and bustle of customers, to the roar and whistle of coffee machines and the background music. Starbucks are noisy! I can’t help but think that they could make some improvements through thoughtful and cutting edge design and acoustical engineering. This could be their opportunity!
As part of the future remains to be seen, to me the bottom line is that Starbucks is taking a step in the right direction. Acknowledging that their services can be stretched across communication modes while offering diversified employment opportunities and educating the general public on a topic that isn’t widely publicized is always a good thing.