When most of us head into Starbucks for an ol’ cup of Joe, our main concern is whether the queue will be out the door, or if we should splurge on hazelnut syrup. But for Ibby Piracha, who is deaf, his twice a week strip to his local Starbucks in Leesburg, Virginia required a little more effort… He had to type his order into his phone and show the barista to place his order.

But one Friday, as Ibby was about to go about his regular routine of typing his order into his phone, his local barista suddenly used sign language to ask him what he wanted. She then handed him a note that said:

“I’ve been learning American Sign Language just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.”

Ibby had had no idea the Starbucks employee had been learning sign language for weeks, just so he didn’t feel different to the other customers.

“I was like ‘wow!’ It brought a smile to my face. I was really surprised she had started signing. It wasn’t anything I had asked her to do. She had taken her own initiative and she had done it herself.”

This Barista Learnt Something New to Help Customer Have 'Same Experience As Everyone Else'

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company is incredibly proud of the employee taking the initiative to learn sign language to help a customer.

Ibby hadn’t ever experienced a service employee communicating with him via sign language before, let alone someone who learnt it solely to make him feel more at home. He spread the message on Facebook, so people could hear about the support for the deaf community from the hearing community. It’s been shared over 2,500 times!

“I was glad to hear someone supporting the deaf community. Sometimes we feel kind of pushed away, and I wish hearing people were a little more assertive to learn more about us and our community.” 

You never know what kind surprise you might find next time you pop in for your morning coffee…

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Helena Vine is currently studying History at the University of Edinburgh, and loves anything making the world a better place.

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