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Starbucks opens first sign language store in Japan

It is the fifth one for the coffee giant globally.

Starbucks has opened its first sign language store in Japan, the chain’s fourth largest market in the world.

The Signing Store is located in Kunitachi City, Tokyo, an area with a long history as part of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

With 19 staff, the outlet has 208 square meters of space, with the store interior designed with accessibility in mind. Customers have several options when ordering in the store, including contactless speech-to-text voice recognition through a tablet at the register, pointing to items on the menu, or writing on a notepad.

A digital signage also lets customers track the progress of their order through the number printed on their receipt. When orders are ready, a sign language animation invites customers to pick up their purchases.

The new outlet is also the coffee giant’s fifth Signing Store globally, with others located in Malaysia, China and the United States.

Since 2018, select Starbucks stores in Japan have hosted “Signing Activity” pilot sessions led by Deaf or hard of hearing partners to prepare for the opening of a full-fledged Signing Store.

“Starbucks has been hiring Deaf and hard of hearing partners (employees) since we entered Japan in 1996, and these partners have made incredible impacts in their communities,” Starbucks Japan CEO Takafumi Minaguchi said. “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.”

“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,” added Ryotaro Sato, the store’s shift supervisor. “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.”

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