Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Starbucks is taking a step to make sure a new store is accessible to those who use sign language to communicate.
The first “Signing Store” in America will open in Washington, D.C. in the fall.
About 20 to 25 employees will be hired from across the country. They will be proficient in American Sign Language, CBS News reported.
The idea was created with the help from the ASL Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet University. The department is the only liberal arts school for higher learning for the deaf in the world and the store will be located near campus.
This isn’t the first time the company catered to deaf patrons.
The first “Signing Store” in the world opened in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, CNN reported.
To acknowledge the signing skills baristas have, they will wear aprons embroidered with ASL signs, CBS News reported. The employees will also wear a pin that says “I Sign.”
The cafe will also feature artwork and a mug designed by a deaf artist.
The the store, which will be done at a current Starbucks location, will be designed to help deaf customers interact. It will be an open layout for easy visual communication and have low-glare reflective surfaces.
It will also have events geared to the deaf community, CNN reported.
The employees at some Starbucks locations really feel like they don’t just work at a coffee shop, they’re part of the community. One shop in Fountain, Colorado, apparently is one of those type of stores.
Sydney Johansson was getting ready to have her senior portraits taken Sunday afternoon, but the weather wouldn’t cooperate. So her mother drove her around, with the photographer in tow, looking for anywhere that could accommodate them, KKTV reported.
The photography session couldn’t be rescheduled because Sydney has an upcoming surgery. She is also in a wheelchair.
Sydney has cerebral palsy among other health conditions, KKTV reported.
Laura Johansson suggested Starbucks, thinking the worst that could happen, would be that the shop would say no.
Vallia said that the man at the counter told them that they could absolutely use the store for the photos. The employee, Chris, offered the Johanssons his umbrella so they could stay dry as the trio transferred from the vehicle into the store. Chris then went out with them, getting soaked in the rain in the process, to help Sydney and Jessica into the shop.
Chris warmed the group up with hot chocolate and inquired multiple times if they needed anything else. As the session progressed, Chris got paper and markers out to make Sydney a backdrop for her photos.
Vallia said they took over the Starbucks for at least an hour.
“All of these fates aligned and gave me the most perfect story for my most perfect kid, and I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Laura told KKTV.
Vallia’s post caught the attention of Starbucks’ offices, which said in its own Facebook post, “To Chris and the partners at our Fountain, CO store -- thank you for going out of your way to do the right thing, for setting an example for all of us, and most of all, bringing some sunshine to Sydney and her family on this very special day.”