Deaf Starbucks customers have filed a lawsuit seeking “changes within Starbuck's corporate culture” and ask that the company "create policies, procedures and trainings" to help employees serve deaf patrons following an incident at one of their New York City area branches.
But settling a lawsuit may not be the only cost to Starbucks. Providing equal access to services isn’t just a moral, social and legal obligation, it also makes good business sense.
It’s unacceptable that hearing impaired people are discriminated against when accessing services, let alone subjected to rude behavior from uninformed staff, but it’s also a missed opportunity for retail chains who don’t invest in staff training and assistive listening solutions (such as counter hearing loops) to provide a beneficial service to such a large and valuable proportion of their customer base.
U.S. Statistics reveal that 17% of Americans have some form of hearing loss; representing $696 billion of annual retail spend. If hearing impaired people exercise that spending power by only frequenting establishments that provide good access to services, and well trained staff, then establishments that don’t are losing out on a lot of potential revenue.
By Alistair Knight
Ampetronic Marketing & Communications Manager