A Deaf Customer’s Touching Experience at Starbucks Goes Viral

Starbucks’ philosophy of inclusion, put into practice.


Starbucks logo

(Nils Versemann / Shutterstock.com)

Starbucks aims to create a culture of belonging in every community where its coffee shops are located – an environment that’s accessible to all and filled with warmth and inclusion. It was for this very reason that Rebecca King found herself on one side of a two-way video camera in the drive-thru at Starbucks’ St. Augustine location in Florida.

St. Augustine is home to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and, consequently, a large deaf community. The two-way camera allows deaf customers like Rebecca to sign with the baristas, four of whom were trained to speak American Sign Language (ASL) at this location. This is all part of Starbucks’ mission to create spaces that are “locally relevant and give customers a deeper connection to their community.”

Rebecca was so pleased by Starbucks’ service that she decided to film the experience on her next coffee run. The video shows Rebecca pulling up to the drive-thru monitor as a barista delivers the quintessential Starbucks greeting over the intercom: “Welcome to Starbucks. What can I get started for your today?" When King doesn’t respond, her barista appears on the monitor and waves hello. The two then communicate in ASL to complete the order.


Starbucks! This is what I'm talking about! ??Share it away! We can change the world! :)For Licensing/Usage Please contact licensing@viralhog.com

Posted by Rebecca King on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

King’s video went viral – with over 11 million views and 260,000 shares on Facebook. The barista, identified as Katie Wyble, told Buzzfeed she couldn’t be happier with Starbucks’ push to make all their customers feel comfortable. “I am so happy and blessed to be a part of it,” she said. “I’m so happy to help the Deaf community get more exposure. I can’t wait to see more companies utilizing this technology to provide better customer service. It’s so cool.”

While this is only one example of a company taking steps to promote an inclusive environment for their customer base, as Wyble said, this is just the beginning. As technology becomes more advanced, the possibilities are endless. 

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