Rebecca Witzofsky, a 20-year-old deaf student at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., and her hearing friend Nikolas Carapellatti wanted to get a coffee. But on Tuesday, Witzofsky finally didn't have to struggle to make her order understood.
U.S. coffee giant Starbucks opened its first "signing store" in the United States in northeast Washington near the campus of Gallaudet, the world's only university with an entire curriculum designed to accommodate the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
At the store, all staff - most of them deaf or hard-of-hearing themselves - are required to communicate with customers using sign language. The cafe is modeled after a store that opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016.
Right now, it's for coffee - two closed fists, one on top of the other, rotating in a move that brings to mind a coffee grinder. There are also special mugs for sale with designs by a deaf artist, and a transcription of how to sign the logo of the store.