Starbucks opens their first Signing Store in Tokyo, Japan which is dedicated to the needs of people who use sign language as communication. According to the World Health Organization, there are around 466 million people around the world who have a hearing impairment. Deafness can affect a person in so many ways. Not being able to hear can adversely affect work resulting in fewer job opportunities. Due to impaired communication, people with hearing loss tend to suffer from social withdrawal. This is mainly because they have reduced access to services. It can also lead to emotional problems caused by low self-esteem and confidence.
In order to connect to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, the brand opened its first Signing Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016. This particular store specifically caters to the deaf and the mute. The chain hired employees who know sign language, thus giving more job opportunities for the deaf community. By using sign language, ordering a cup of coffee would be a lot easier for the hearing impaired. This would allow them to connect with one another and enjoy coffee casually.
The New Starbucks In Japan Has Staff Who Can Communicate In Sign Language
The coffee giant has expanded their Signing Stores to other countries including USA (Washington D.C.) and China (Guangzhou). For the fourth store, the coffee chain decided to open a second Signing Store in Malaysia, this time in Penang. And on June 27th this year, Japan had its first Signing Store located at Kunitachi City, Tokyo, making it the fifth of its kind in the world.
It is also important to point out that Kunitachi City is a neighborhood in the western portion of the Tokyo Metropolis with a high deaf population. Fittingly, it was an ideal site to set up an inclusive environment for the hard-of-hearing community. The store currently has 19 deaf employees who will serve and assist deaf customers.
“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,” said Takafumi Minaguchi, the CEO of the brand in Japan.
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The Coffee Shop Is Running A Little Differently At The Moment Because Of The Pandemic
Due to the current global pandemic, the newly-opened store could only offer takeout for the time being. To maintain physical distancing, customers are given numbered queuing tickets and will have to wait in line before being served. There are several ways that a customer can order. Of course, they can use sign language to communicate with the staff. The store also features a contactless speech-to-text voice recognition through a tablet at the register, a special menu sheet where customers can point to the items and a notepad where customers can write their order.
The store greets customers with a welcoming interior with accessibility and human engagement in mind. Order processing makes use of digital signage to let customers track the progress of their order through their queuing tickets. A sign language animation appears on screen when orders are ready, notifying the customer to pick up their orders. Although the Signing Store is dedicated to the deaf culture, it is open to all people regardless of whether they are hearing impaired or not.
“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. 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,” said Ryotaro Sato, Shift Supervisor.
Source: Stories.Starbucks Asia