La Oferta

December 10, 2023

Starbucks opens first deaf-friendly store in Washington

Washington, Oct 27 (EFE).- Other than the noise from the coffee machines, the only thing one can hear at the new deaf-friendly Starbucks in Washington, DC, is clients chuckling.

“This place is great. The staff is very friendly and everyone can easily communicate here. It’s a great experience,” Taylor, one of the customers, writes down on a notebook in response to EFE’s questions.

Taylor, who is deaf, was born in Denver, Colorado, and is one of the dozens of students from Gallaudet University, in the US capital, to visit the new coffee shop.

Fotografía del 25 de octubre de 2018, donde aparecen Enric (i), Connor (c) y Taylor (d) mientras hacen señas con su manos en el interior de la cafetería de Starbucks para sordos en Washington, DC (EE.UU.). Más allá del ruido de las cafeteras, el único sonido que se puede oír en el primer establecimiento de Starbucks para sordos en EE.UU. es el de las habituales carcajadas de sus clientes, que están “muy contentos” con la apertura de su nuevo punto de encuentro en Washington. EFE

Gallaudet is the only educational center in the world that offers education to the deaf and hard of hearing at every level, from elementary to graduate school.

According to Taylor, this new coffee shop “helps deaf people feel more involved in the world.”

Her classmates Connor and Enric are also excited about the new coffee shop.

“This is my first time here and I am very proud that there is finally a place for deaf people. Deaf people are my family,” Enric wrote.

The new Starbucks is staffed entirely by employees who can communicate in sign language, though people who do not know sign language can easily communicate with the baristas through tablets, where orders can be placed.

Customers can then see if their orders are ready on a screen.

“I have never seen something like this in my whole like. I am very glad,” Roger Cardwell, a customer from Indiana, writes in the notebook.

Even though the opening of this Starbucks is a step forward for the deaf community in the United States, Enric wrote that “there is still much work to be done.”

“Almost everyone knows that deaf people can also be intelligent, but there is still much work to be done to tackle ignorance. There is still a lot of discrimination against us because hearing persons don’t understand our situation,” he wrote.

Many see the opening of this Starbucks as an opportunity to bring together the deaf and hearing communities and to educate people about what it means to not be able to hear.

This is the case of Elizabeth Green, who has no deaf friends or family, and who decided to visit the new coffee shop to learn more about how deaf people communicate.

“Being here has made me reflect on how deaf people communicate. It’s an incredible experience and I want to bring my three daughters so they can start to understand and appreciate the deaf community,” Elizabeth said.