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Deaf And Unemployed: Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands (cont.) – By Amanda Morris – npr.org

Established companies are increasingly making efforts to accommodate, include, and support deaf employees and customers. Communication Service for the Deaf preaches the idea of “One World,” where deaf and hearing alike can come together. This world became a reality in one new coffee shop. Starbucks’ first store run entirely in ASL opened [fall of 2018]. On the day of the grand opening, the line for coffee stretched back past a deaf artist’s colorful cubist mural to the front door, where ASL letters spelled out S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S. Deaf and hearing customers alike ordered at the register. Non-ASL-using customers used touchpads or wrote their orders. But those who knew ASL simply had to rub one fist over the other in a circular motion, mimicking manual coffee grinding — the sign for “coffee.” At many of the tables, customers stole sips of coffee whenever their hands weren’t flying rapidly in conversation. All of the staff members at this Starbucks location are fluent in ASL. Some are deaf, including store manager Matthew Gilsbach. Prior to this job, Gilsbach was used to feeling alone in the hearing world. He grew up in Michigan, where he went to a mainstream school but felt left out by his peers. He then got a bachelor’s in communication studies from Gallaudet and a master’s in higher education supervision from the University of Vermont. After getting his master’s, he started looking for a job in his field but wasn’t having any luck. He decided to work at Starbucks in the meantime. At first, Gilsbach worked in a store in California, but when he found out about plans to open an ASL Starbucks, he knew it was a perfect opportunity for him. In his new role, Gilsbach now enjoys full accessibility, and he said he really feels like he is a part of the team. (Next issue – read about a Deaf pilot.)

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