Starbucks opens its first hearing impaired café in China

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Starbucks coffee
PHOTO/COURTESY: Spoon University

By Edna Mwende

Starbucks over the weekend, announced it has opened its first “silent café” in Guangzhou, China which is dedicated to offering employment and career advancement opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“As a coffee leader deeply rooted in China, for China, Starbucks is committed to creating equal opportunities for everyone,” said Belinda Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks China, in a press statement.

She continued to say that the store truly creates a sense of belonging for everyone and is a strong testament to their continued commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive working environment.

Starbucks currently employs over 100 partners with disabilities in China. In line with its efforts to nurture talent and create more opportunities for the deaf workforce, Starbucks has partnered with the Guangdong Deaf People Association to offer professional skills training, including sign language courses as well as internship opportunities.

According to the statement, the store employs deaf partners and hard of hearing partners-employees- from across China, who are fluent in the Chinese Sign Language.

Starbucks has created an environment where the people in the restaurant can comfortably express themselves with deaf baristas who wear aprons with the word “Starbucks” in sign language and the store is equipped with a customized ordering system.

Customers and associates are able to communicate using notepads and two-way digital displays. There is also a dedicated area for customers who are new to sign language, whereby they can write down their orders on an electronic board. Wireless vibrating pagers notify customers when their orders are ready.

In order to create an inclusive environment and encourage customers to have more awareness about the deaf community, the store will also offer coffee workshops in sign language as well as sign language lessons.

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