You might be surprised to see a drive-thru employee pop up on a video screen. It might be even more surprising to see her signing fluently in ASL, or American Sign Language. It certainly took customer Rebecca King off guard. King is deaf and usually the drive-thru is an ordeal for her. They’re not designed to be particularly accessible to deaf persons. But Starbucks’ new “Evolution” order screen provides two-way video, allowing baristas like Katie Wyble to better serve all their customers. Wyble, 22, began learning ASL as a child and is still devoted to the language. She’s passionate about improving access for the deaf and it shows in her embrace of this new technology.
Small changes like this and passionate individuals like Katie Wyble can help bridge the gap between the hearing and the deaf and make the world a little friendlier to everyone. It’s not just technological advances that help us level the playing field, it’s our humanity.