Starbucks
(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Starbucks is supporting the deaf community by offering a special service for its hearing-impaired customers. The coffee shop outlet located in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district started teaching its baristas and staff how to communicate with customers who cannot hear well. The company also hired workers who have hearing disabilities as they want to give everyone an equal opportunity.

This Starbucks branch is the first store in the area that has the sign language capability to "converse" well and better understand the deaf people. Likewise, the coffee shop giant wanted to make it easy and comfortable for hearing-impaired customers to order their drinks, pastries, and sandwiches so it teamed up with the Guangdong Deaf People Association for the staff to get professional training and skills in sign language.

According to China Daily, since not all customers have problems with hearing or know sign language, there will be a spot where they can simply write down their orders and Starbucks will utilize an electronic board for this purpose. On the other hand, vibrating pagers will be handed out so people will know when their orders are ready.   

Starbucks in China already hired more than 100 people with disabilities and the company is doing this to empower the hearing-challenged individuals and provide them with a decent source of income. Aside from employment, another goal is to raise awareness and offer career-advancement to hard-of-hearing groups.

Inside Retail reported that baristas in this Guangzhou branch will also wear aprons with sign language that spells the word "Starbucks," and throughout the store, there will be signs that will tell customers that the staffs are deaf. With the initiative, Fan Yitao, vice chairman of China Deaf People Association, expressed his gratitude for the gesture.

"Thanks to Starbucks, deaf partners are empowered to develop their careers in a vibrant and supportive environment while the store provides a strong platform to drive societal awareness around deaf culture and the needs of the community," he said. "We also hope that more social forces will join us in the future, and we will achieve equal employment in the future nationwide."

Finally, the CEO of Starbucks China, Belinda Wong, stated that their company will continue to support the communities that needed assistance through their programs. "Starbucks China will continue to build a different kind of company and use our large scale of operations to create the perfect place for everyone in China, no matter what their needs are," Wong said.