Starbucks makes history with ASL integration



The Signing Store has a new ASL word of the week as a way to promote inclusivity. Fittingly, the word of the week for the launch of the store was "coffee".

Emma Hodges, Staff Writer

Just recently, Starbucks has opened a new store in Washington DC where all of its employees know American Sign Language. The purpose of the ASL store is to help provide easy communication for people who are deaf which allows for a more inclusive community.

The company placed the store near Gallaudet University, a private school for deaf students and others with partial hearing loss.

“I think this new store will definitely make a really positive impact on the deaf community because it can be seen as somewhere where ASL is embraced creating a safe environment for many deaf individuals” said Starbucks employee Meghann Klein (‘20).

All employees of the new Starbucks are required to be able to sign to customers; deaf baristas wear green aprons with Starbucks’ logo written across in sign language and others wear a pin that says they are able to sign.

The store is open to all customers and those who cannot sign back are able to write their order through a tablet at the counter.

The ASL Starbucks also embraces learning and provides visuals of new signs each week to teach customers how to properly sign new words.

“This new Starbucks is a location where all Deaf people can come together and not have to worry about any language barriers! It also brings awareness to those that are not deaf to see what Deaf culture and ASL really are” said Amador’s ASL teacher, Mrs. Heller.

This Starbucks goes all out in their inclusivity efforts–from the aprons for employees to the coffee mugs, every aspect of the store is integrating ASL.

Although the Starbucks Signing Store is the only one in the United States, there are more locations across the globe.

A Starbucks Signing Store opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016. Starbucks said the inspiration for the D.C. store was led by a team of deaf Starbucks employees, who traveled to Malaysia to get insight into building a similar store in the U.S.

“This store is a really good opportunity for customers who don’t know ASL to learn because they are exposed to signing throughout the store and there are lots of skilled baristas who are willing to help” said Allyson Chan (‘22).

The new Signing Store Starbucks will be a great opportunity for deaf people to come together and spread awareness of American Sign Language. It gives deaf individuals the opportunity to educate others on how powerful ASL can be and how it really changes the outlook of the deaf community.