In St. Augustine, Florida, a new piece of technology is making a local Starbucks more accessible.
A Facebook video posted by customer Rebecca King shows her pulling up to the drive-thru with a friend. Both King and her friend are deaf.
In the video, a barista greets them over the speaker.
King signs towards the screen and waits a moment. Then, a live screen pops up with barista Katie Wyble on the other end, allowing King to use American Sign Language to order two frappuccinos.
According to Starbucks, this location is close to a well-known public school for deaf and blind students and its drive-thru is equipped with a two-way camera to allow this sort of visual communication.
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Assistant manager Erin Berkner said the shop, which opened in August, has four employees who know ASL.
“People who are deaf feel comfortable here and that’s our goal for all of our customers,” she said.
King told NBC affiliate First Coast News that she posted the video on Tuesday to show a friend how the drive-thru worked. It has now been viewed over 9.3 million times.
“It’s a big deal to the deaf community that Starbucks has one now,” she said. “Nowhere else has that! We all want to have that at every drive-thru in the world.”
Wyble was surprised by the response to the video and said she just showed something that is “natural” for her.
“I’m glad that there’s more awareness for deaf culture and the deaf community. To see this come to light and actually be a part of it, I feel so blessed,” she said.
In Montreal, a McGill University graduate and Starbucks barista shared her story in a video about how her encounter with a deaf customer inspired her to learn ASL.
Sarah Campbell said that learning ASL helped her connect with deaf customers and friends on a deeper level.
The 22-year-old Ottawa native even spent a summer in Seattle shadowing Starbucks executive Marthalee Galeota for a summer, focusing on diversity and accessibility.
“I squealed when I saw [Rebecca King’s] video. Marthalee and I had many times over email and in person of sharing dreams about what the future could hold,” said Campbell in an email.
“To see this technology being put up in place felt like this giant check mark on a long list of the ways we can make everyone feel included and connected.”
Campbell is now living and working in Bangkok, Thailand as a manager of a cafe that supports victims of prostitution and human trafficking, including the deaf.