Say ‘hello’ to the First Sign Language Starbucks

Continuing the company’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity, Starbucks has opened its first signing store in Japan on June 27, 2020. situated in Kunitachi City, Tokyo, the new coffee shop celebrates deaf culture and sign language through clever design tools and vibrant artwork. The location of the new signing store has been chosen due to the area’s long history as part of the deaf and hard of hearing community. in addition to providing local coffee lovers with a welcoming and inclusive space, the opening of the store also means career opportunities for 19 new and existing deaf and hard of hearing Starbucks employees.



‘Starbucks has been hiring deaf and hard of hearing partners (employees) since we entered japan in 1996, and these partners have made incredible impacts in their communities,’ said TakafumiMminaguchi, CEO, Starbucks Coffee Japan. ‘Inspired by their passion, we created this store as a place of belonging, where our partners and customers can stay true to who they are and be inspired. This store truly represents infinite possibilities for all.’



Within the 2240 sq ft space, the interior adopts the instantly recognizable color scheme and aesthetic of the Starbucks brand. However, the design also includes a number of clever features to provide a seamless experience for deaf or hard of hearing customers. when ordering their favorite brew, customers have several options including contactless speech-to-text voice recognition through a tablet at the register, pointing to items on the menu, or writing on a notepad.



To track their order, customers can use the number printed on their receipt to check digital signage, which also serves as a display for greetings in sign language. then, when the coffee is ready, a sign language animation lets the customers know.



In addition to the integration of technology for the deaf and hard of hearing, the interior is also decorated with artwork by Hidehiko Kado. the bright colors and whimsical expressions reinforce the store’s concept of inclusion and connection, inviting local Japanese customers to become immersed in the unique culture of signing.



‘The opening of japan’s first signing store is an important moment that represents the incredible passion of our deaf and hard of hearing partners across Japan,’ said Ryotaro Sato, shift supervisor. ‘We want to showcase how the talent of the deaf and hard of hearing community can spark connections, inspire new possibilities, and help our partners grow their careers with Starbucks. We’re looking forward to sharing new experiences with our customers and demonstrating the diversity of communication that they can experience at the signing store.’



Images Courtesy of Starbucks.

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