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Oct, 25 2018

Starbucks launches first sign language store in Washington

At the newly-launched store, all staff members are required to communicate with customers using sign language.

US coffee giant Starbucks has launched its first "signing store" in northeast Washington, the United States (US). The outlet is opened near the campus of Gallaudet, an institution that caters for students who are deaf or have partial hearing loss.

At the newly-launched store, all staff members, most of them deaf or hard-of-hearing themselves, are required to communicate with customers using sign language. The café is modeled after the outlet that started in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016.

The initiative is aimed at bringing diverse communities together. The store has many specific features designed to embrace and celebrate deaf culture.

Rebecca Witzofsky, a 20-year-old deaf student at Gallaudet University, said, "It gives deaf people space off-campus, a place to come to and socialize, eat food with other deaf people and meet other deaf people as well, and the deaf employees." 

"When I go to a normal Starbucks, I either talk or hope they can hear me and understand, or I show them my order on my phone. Here, your name appears on a screen, which I really, really like, because when they call my order I don't have to try to hear it, it's right on the screen," she added.

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