The storefronts along Washington’s bustling H Street Northeast are lit up with familiar names and logos: Petco. Whole Foods. CVS.
There is also a Starbucks. Or, more specifically, S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S spelled out in the hand symbols of American Sign Language.
That fingerspelling is one way to spot the coffee giant’s first U.S. signing store, where 24 deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing employees run the shop using ASL. The store debuts on Tuesday after being converted from a standard Starbucks location to make the design and technology more accessible. It’s a step, employees and advocates say, toward boosting employment opportunities for the deaf community while also immersing hearing individuals in deaf spaces. And it’s a show of support from one of the world’s largest corporate brands.
“My identity is accepted here,” said Crystal Harris, a barista at the signing store. “Deafness has many faces.”
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