Starbucks Corp. has opened a store that is the first of its kind in the United States.

The coffee giant’s first U.S. “signing store” is located in Washington, D.C., just down the street from Gallaudet University. The 150-year old institution is the world’s only university designed to educate deaf and hard of hearing students.

All the employees in the new Starbucks are proficient in American Sign Language (ASL), whether they are hearing, hard of hearing or deaf. Deaf associates wear special green aprons embroidered with the ASL finger spelling of Starbucks. Hearing ones wear traditional green aprons with “I Sign” pins.

The store itself was designed with accessibility in mind, with more open space, anti-glare surfaces, and visual displays for customers to check and pick up orders.

“All the barriers are gone from being able to communicate, or from people being able to demonstrate their skills and show off the talent they have,” said Marthalee Galeota, senior…