Drive-throughs aren't exactly known for being deaf-inclusive, but that doesn't mean they can't be. Starbucks has taken some strides in recent years, using videophone technology to allow employee and customer to see each other and communicate orders. What does that look like IRL? One Starbucks customer filmed his experience for TikTok and showed what a difference the inclusive feature can make.
Above, you can see Dallin Smuin pull up to the Starbucks drive-through and, after the employee asks for his order, tell her he's deaf and can't understand her very well. Soon the employee pops up on the screen and uses sign language to take Smuin's order. "It would be awesome if all Businesses were as inclusive as Starbucks," he writes in the video.
The story doesn't end there. Once Smuin's TikTok started making the rounds, the Starbucks employee, Brianna Roth, released her own video, explaining that she's a student at the National Technical Institute For the Deaf, where she majors in interpreting. "Starbucks is amazing because we have a videophone," Roth signs in the TikTok. "Other businesses should also have that because the deaf community needs more access."
It's not the first time Starbucks has gotten attention for their video drive-throughs. In 2015, a customer in Birmingham, AL, shared her experience using the videophone and signing her order to an employee. A Starbucks spokesperson told Alabama.com at the time, "We have also been thinking about deaf customers and their experience. We have found that the video terminal provides an added benefit for many deaf customers - particularly if the barista happens to know sign language." Starbucks added, "While we cannot guarantee that our baristas know sign language, there is basic training on communicating with deaf customers."
Watch Smuin's and Roth's TikToks to see how the simple technology is still helping customers today.