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deaf-friendly businesses
Apple Maps have useful features like alerts for speed cameras, electric vehicle routing, and real time transit information. Now, thanks to a partnership between Apple and Gallaudet University, users can look up deaf-friendly businesses in the Washington, DC area.

Maps Guide Project

According to Apple, “Apple Maps editors have worked with trusted brands and partners to offer Guides that make recommendations for the best places to visit in cities around the world to eat, shop, meet friends, or explore. You can save Guides so you can easily get back to them later. And they automatically update when new places are added, so you always have the latest recommendations.”

Gallaudet’s contribution to this project is to label deaf-friendly businesses in Washington, DC. These are locations that are owned and operated by deaf people and/or have staff who use sign language. This particular Guide is the Signing Ecosystem Guide.

Criteria for Deaf-Friendly Businesses

Gallaudet used the following criteria for adding places to the Signing Ecosystem Guide:

  • Is the location’s customer/audience base geared towards the Deaf community with ethical consciousness of our language, culture, and community resources?
  • Is the site owned and operated by Deaf and hard of hearing people, or does the site employ Deaf and hard of hearing people?
  • Has the location embraced and found the significance, worth, and value of American Sign Language (and other signed/tactile languages), Deaf people, and Deaf culture?
  • Does the site show consideration and inclusion of Deaf and hard of hearing people in their workplace, audience, and community?

Read more: 6 sign language cafes to visit around the world


This inclusive Guide is already having an impact.

“We have developed a navigation system that will allow our students, alumni, and visitors to identify locations that are signing-friendly,” Bryce H. Chapman, Director of Marketing at Gallaudet, told Forbes. “This has already shifted some of our admissions and recruitment efforts; we are now able to share our guides with prospective students and their parents and families so they can quickly experience what it is like to live and interact here at Gallaudet and in its surrounding neighborhoods.”

“We have developed a navigation system that will allow our students, alumni, and visitors to identify locations that are signing-friendly…”

Chapman also said that Gallaudet will continue to work on other guides to bring awareness to Deaf-owned businesses and create a greater array of resources for our community.

While this Guide only covers Washington, DC, Deaf advocates will label other Signing Ecosystem sites around the country. Apple and Gallaudet will provide updates accordingly.

Author Details
Lisa A. Goldstein has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley, a digital hearing aid, a cochlear implant, and plenty of deaf-friendly communication equipment. She spends her days juggling life as a freelance journalist, wife, and mother of two in Pittsburgh, PA.