A young barista became big news, and not because she was being hailed for making the best cup of java. Instead, her effort to go that extra mile got her recognized. Brianna Roth’s brief exchange with customer Dallin Smuin wasn’t out of the ordinary. Had it been spoken, it would have been forgotten within minutes, but it was special because it was conducted using American Sign Language (ASL).
As PopSugar recounts, Smuin pulled up to the Starbucks drive-through. After Roth asked for his order, he told her he was deaf and couldn’t understand her very well. She showed up on the videophone screen and used ASL to take his order. As he wrote in the video, “It would be awesome if all Businesses were as inclusive as Starbucks.”
“It would be awesome if all Businesses were as inclusive as Starbucks.”
Smuin was so affected by his experience that he posted the exchange on TikTok. The video has been viewed 17 million times. Roth herself later shared on her own TikTok account and the views kept on growing. Turns out she’s a student at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where she majors in interpreting. In her TikTok, she signed, “Starbucks is amazing because we have a videophone. Other businesses should also have that because the deaf community needs more access.” Indeed, this videophone technology is accessible to all deaf customers, as it also benefits those who read lips.
Today.com quoted Roth as saying that there are around 4,000 Starbucks employing this videophone technology. The famous exchange happened in the Rochester, New York area.
What makes this even more remarkable is that Starbucks is a major company investing and implementing in new staff initiatives. The deaf and hearing loss communities have come a long way and it seems strange to think that many in the hearing community are still totally oblivious to the needs and challenges we face on a daily basis.
Starbucks’ efforts will likely result in confident beverage choice-buying from people with hearing loss. On a personal level, I see this as a positive move forward. I know the next time I want a coffee, if there’s a choice, I’ll choose Starbucks’ inclusivity over other chains.