Starbucks' first U.S. 'signing store' opens soon. Here's why that's awesome news.

Starbucks has announced its first U.S. signing store catering to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Opening in October in Washington, D.C, the store will employ 20-25 deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing workers fluent in American Sign Language. The location, near Gallaudet University — a private university for deaf and hard of hearing people — was chosen because it's already a vibrant, deaf-friendly hub.

The idea for the store came from a team of deaf Starbucks partners and allies who were inspired by the opening of Starbucks' first signing store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016. Like the Malaysian store, the D.C. location will provide both employment opportunities and a highly inclusive gathering space for the deaf/hard of hearing community and their friends.


That's great news for deaf and hard of hearing folks, who often face significant barriers to finding and keeping employment.

The simple act of ordering a cup of coffee is something many hearing people take for granted. Having a store where customers can order in sign language and know they will be understood is a boon to those who need it.

Just as impactful, however, is the purposeful embrace of employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.

According to the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, 72% of hearing Americans of working age are employed, while only 48% of deaf Americans are. And almost half of deaf unemployed people are not in the labor force at all, meaning they have either given up on finding employment or have decided for some reason not to seek it.

Barriers to employment for deaf and hard of hearing people include employers having an inadequate understanding of "reasonable accommodations" required by law, difficulties in communication, and inadequate educational preparation. In addition, 1 in 4 deaf workers have quit a job due to discrimination in the workplace.

Starbucks creating a mainstream workplace specifically catering to deaf and hard of hearing employees is a big deal.

Advocates have lauded the store opening as a step forward.

"The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs Deaf and hard of hearing people," said Howard A. Rosenblum, the org's CEO. "Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society."

Deaf actress Marlee Matlin celebrated the announcement on Twitter.

And when Starbucks responded to her tweet with a person signing "thank you," Matlin said she "couldn't wait to order [her] nonfat hot chai latte in sign."

Other people who communicate differently, such as some people on the autism spectrum who also utilize sign language, are also expressing excitement about the new store.

Starbucks' inclusiveness initiatives can serve as an example to corporate America.

The coffee giant doesn't exactly have a perfect track record when it comes to inclusiveness, having made news for a racist incident in a Philadelphia store earlier in 2018. In response, the corporation shut down 8,000 of its U.S. stores for a day in order to engage 175,000 employees in a company-wide racial bias training. The one-day training received mixed reviews, but Starbucks says it was just the beginning and that it has begun making such trainings part of the onboarding process for new employees.

Despite some bumps along the way, it's clear that Starbucks has consistently endeavored to lead the way in addressing systemic issues and creating inclusive workplaces and consumer environments. This new signing store is a great example of giving marginalized people the reins, supporting an initiative led by those people themselves, and pushing inclusiveness into the mainstream.

Well done, Starbucks.

Starbucks Announces First U.S. Signing Store

We are excited to announce that our first Signing Store in the U.S. will open in Washington, D.C. this October, building on our ongoing efforts to connect with the diverse communities we serve. Learn more here: https://sbux.co/2LarhAk

Posted by Starbucks Partners - Access Alliance on Thursday, July 19, 2018
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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.