On June 27, Starbucks will open its fifth Signing Store globally in Japan, located in Kunitachi City, Tokyo—a neighborhood with a long history as part of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
Inspired by the passion of the company's Deaf and hard of hearing partners, the new Signing Store builds on Starbucks ongoing commitment to connect with the diverse communities it serves and continue to find ways to create a Third Place that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone.
The store expanded career opportunities for more than 19 new and existing Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing partners (employees) from across Japan, as well as hearing partners fluent in Japanese Sign Language (JSL).
This team of partners will help to attract talent and expand career opportunities at Starbucks, while raising awareness and understanding of Deaf experiences in the workplace.
The store features unique design elements and enhanced communication options, including: interior and exterior signage; green aprons with “Starbucks” embroidered in fingerspelling; exclusive artwork designed by local artist Hidehiko Kado, a child of Deaf adults (CODA); customized ordering system where customers and partners will be able to communicate using notepads; pointing menus and contactless speech-to-text voice via two-way digital displays; and digital signage, which lets customers track the progress of their order and invites them to pick up their purchases using a sign language animation.
Since 2018, select Starbucks stores in Japan have been hosting “Signing Activity” pilot sessions led by Deaf or hard of hearing partners to prepare for the opening of the Signing Store.
Starbucks currently employs more than 350 partners with disabilities in Japan, and provides training tools and accessibility aids, flexible work hours, and coaching services to help develop their careers.
Since opening the first Signing Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016, Starbucks has expanded this unique store model across the world, including in Washington D.C., Guangzhou, China, and a second store in Penang, Malaysia.