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Starbucks' Opens First U.S. 'Signing Store' for Deaf Customers in Northeast D.C.

October 23, 2018

By Erin Thibeau

Starbucks' first store in the country to serve the deaf and hard of hearing opened on Tuesday in Northeast D.C. 

The "Signing Store Project" launched on a block of H Street Northeast, a location chosen for its proximity to Gallaudet University, the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Every one of the store's employees is deaf, hard of hearing, and/or knows American Sign Language fluently. They wear special green aprons created by a deaf supplier and embroidered with the ASL finger-spelling of Starbucks.

The space is also specifically designed for the deaf community and features artwork and custom merchandise is made by deaf artists. A prominent mural created by Yiqiao Wang, a deaf artist and adjunct professor at Gallaudet University, features letters, signs and symbols representing English, ASL, deaf culture and coffee.

“In the center of the piece, you can see two very strong hands, arms raised up, rising from the bottom of the artwork,” Wang told Starbucks. “Deaf people can see that. It means community in ASL, and bringing various backgrounds, languages and people all together.” 

Starbucks' first Signing Store opened in Malaysia in 2016.

Read more about the Signing Store from Starbucks here.

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