In June, Starbucks announced that it would be launching its first sign language-friendly store in The United States, modeled after the only other Starbucks Signing Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There are approximately 37.5 million American adults, 18 and over, who report some trouble hearing, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports.
This week, the store officially opened in Washington, D.C., with all of its employees being fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), CNN reports. “Starbucks chose a block of H Street Northeast for its inaugural ASL store because of its proximity to Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing.”
“This neighborhood is one of the most diverse I’ve seen since moving to D.C.,” Crystal Harris, a new barista at the store, tells Starbucks through an interpreter. “I hope the Signing Store will be embraced and accepted by those that live in this community. The fact that it is so close to Gallaudet University makes it that much more special.”