It's quite rare to find someone today who knows American Sign Language. Yet with over one million deaf people in the United States, and 15% of adults with a hearing problem, it's surprising to think we aren't more aware of this language. Since Starbucks is such a huge presence of American culture, they decided they wanted to make a difference. Coming in early October, a deaf-run Starbucks is opening up in Washington D.C... the first in the United States!
This is big. This seems like a small change in order to make our country just slightly more accepting, but for someone who's hard of hearing this could mean a lot to them. Starbucks' has a goal to create "the third place," which is a place other than work and home where people can feel comfortable to stay and belong. This store will be accessible for all customers and provide a different experience than most stores offer since this store is more geared towards deaf customers.
The plan is to make this store different. Though all the drinks are going to be the same, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and all, the deaf workers will have aprons embroidered with ASL characters and hearing workers who sign will have special pins. A deaf artist is even contributing to a special mug and some artwork that will go throughout the store. The whole store has plans to have a very open floor plan since communicating is done through sight. In addition, they will have low reflective surfaces in order to make it even easier to communicate visually.
It seems Starbucks did it again. They thought of everything. We will have to wait until October to see how the launch goes and see how successful they did in achieving their mission. Whether or not it is what we expect, I commend Starbucks for their ability to see what we need as a society, and actually, do something about it.