Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar protections much of the world remains inaccessible to disabled people—even though most of the accommodations they need would be simple and easy to implement. A recent TikTok taken at a Starbucks drive-thru demonstrates just how easy it is to make the drive-thru experience accessible for deaf customers: People are hoping that other companies sit up and take notice.
Starbucks has had video phones installed in its drive-thrus for some time now so that deaf customers can more easily make use of the service. Dallin Smuin, a deaf TikToker and loyal Starbucks fan, decided to make a video demonstrating just how much this feature improved his customer experience, calling himself a “forever customer.”
What made this video so popular, however, was the barista on duty that day, Brianna Roth, who is studying to be a sign language interpreter at the nearby National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Rather than relying on lip-reading or writing their conversation down before holding up to the screen, Roth was able to communicate with Smuin entirely in sign language.
After coming across his TikTok while scrolling her timeline, Roth recognized herself in the video and recorded a duet with it, where she talked about the need for other businesses to adopt the same technology, saying “the deaf community needs more access.”
This isn’t the first time Starbucks has gone viral for a sign language encounter between barista and customer via video phones. The first time was back in 2015, but few other companies have adopted the technology. Maybe now that TikTok’s on top of it that will start to change.
Smuin and Roth have been reached out to for comment and this article will be updated if they respond.
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