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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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

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Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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