Starbucks Signing Store (cover pic)
Image adapted from: Starbucks Malaysia

World’s 4th sign-language Starbucks in Penang

Mention Starbucks and we’d immediately think of early morning caffeine boosts and after dinner lepak sessions. But the coffee chain giant has actually been doing a lot more for our local community than just providing us with the much needed caffeine kick. 

On Tuesday (20 Nov), Malaysians came together to congratulate and applaud Starbucks on the opening of their 2nd Signing Store in George Town, Penang. This comes 3 years after their 1st Signing Store in Bangsar Village II. It also marks the 4th of such outlet globally, with the other 2 being in the U.S and China.

Starbucks staff posing outside the store
The Penang Signing Store is operated by 7 deaf and hard of hearing community members
Image credit: Starbucks Malaysia

Employment opportunities for the deaf

It’s sad to hear, but it’s true that many of those who have any form of disability can’t easily find jobs – even if they are perfectly capable of carrying out the required job scope. While companies continue to sideline this group of people, there are others like A&W and Starbucks who are making way for a new working culture that practices inclusivity.

Starbucks staff signing each other
Baristas communicating to each other in sign language
Image credit: Starbucks Malaysia

While it’s great that hearing-impaired folk are now handed more opportunities, there’s a misconception that being a barista is only for part-timers. This is why Starbuck’s employees can undergo a Coffee Masters Programme to brush up on their coffee knowledge and hone their barista skills. 

Starbucks workshop
A coffee tasting and signing workshop conducted by certified deaf coffee masters
Image credit: @StarbucksMY

With this programme, it also means that they can advance their careers for a more fulfilling working life. 

Sign language classes for employees

At this Penang outlet, the deaf employees work alongside their peers who don’t have hearing disabilities. Since it’s essential for both parties to practice good communication to ensure the smooth running of day-to-day operations, Starbucks has partnered with the Penang Deaf Association (PDA) to provide sign language lessons to all employees.

Starbucks Signing Store Apron
Sign language is embroidered onto the aprons of employees in Starbucks Signing Stores
Image credit: @StarbucksMY

Starbucks Malaysia’s support of the local deaf community

Fun fact: Starbucks Malaysia first came up with the idea of a Signing Store before the U.S followed suit, which means our local corporate leaders are paving the way for global change. We can only expect to see store numbers grow from here, and hopefully, stores like this will become the norm for all groups of people with disability. 

When that day does come, we’ll have Starbucks Malaysia to thank for leading the initiative.

The 2nd Starbucks Signing Store in George Town, Penang
Image credit: @StarbucksMY

Address: 403, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Penang
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 8AM-10PM | Fri-Sat 8AM-12AM | Sun 8AM-10PM
Telephone: 04-226 6529

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