Rafael Nunez Aponte: Sign Language: A Possible Tool for Better Service

When Ibby Piracha walked into his favorite Starbucks last month, he received something great, beyond his favorite blended beverage. This man is deaf and in his visit to Starbucks, he approached the counter to order, and his barista signed, “What do you want to drink?” This fact surprised Piracha a lot because the barista actually learned to sign specifically, so Piracha and the rest of deaf customers would get the “same experience as everyone else.”

Rafael Nunez Aponte: Sign Language: A Possible Tool for Better Service

The Starbucks Barista Who is Learning Sign Language

After this episode, Piracha posted a photo on Facebook from his Feb. 19 visit to the Virginia Starbucks, and today, the photo is a viral phenomenon, garnering more than 13,000 shares and 3,600 likes. Captioning the photo, Piracha expressed his thanks, writing that he received a blessing gesture from the employee for taking the time to learn a skill that would make his visits more enjoyable.

At Virginia Starbucks, on the 1000 block of Edwards Ferry Road NE, employees said that they could not speak to the media. A spokesperson from Starbucks’ corporate office said the company is proud the employee is taking the great initiative of learning American Sign Language in order to be kind and more respectful for those who cannot hear.

More about Sign Language

Rafael Nunez Aponte: Sign Language: A Possible Tool for Better Service

Sign Language

Sign language is a visual language that uses a system of manual, facial and body movements as the means ofcommunication. This language is not a universal language, and different sign languages are used in different countries, like the many spoken languages all over the world. Some countries such as Belgium, the UK, the USA or India have more than one sign language. Hundreds of sign languages are in used around the world, such as: 

  • JapaneseSign Language (or Nihon Shuwa, JSL),
  • British Sign Language (BSL),
  • Spanish Sign Language (Lengua de signos o señas española, or LSE),
  • Turkish Sign Language (or Türk İşaret Dili, TID).
Rafael Nunez Aponte: Sign Language: A Possible Tool for Better Service

Barista from Strarbucks Learning Sign Language

Do you think that learning this important means of communication is a necessary tool in fast food restaurants as in the case of Virgina Starbucks? Is this a language that each employee can learn by his/her own? Or could it be mandatory to learn at list some basic phrases for the public? There is no doubt that communicating in sign language turn the Piracha’s visits more enjoyable and pleasant, and, of course, put him at the same well-deserve place of every other customer in the restaurant.