A Starbucks barista is earning plenty of praise for her viral exchange with a deaf customer.
Brianna Roth is an interpreting student at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. The 19-year-old also happens to work at Starbucks, where her translating skills occasionally come in handy.
One example: when Dallin Smuin, who is deaf, pulled up to the drive-thru window during Roth’s shift.
Their exchange, which Smuin posted on TikTok, has been viewed more than 17 million times.
In the clip, Smuin pulls up to the window, where Roth begins to take his order. Smuin responds by explaining that he’s deaf and “can’t really understand” what she’s saying.
“Oh I’m sorry, hold on one second,” the barista replies.
Moments later, Roth appears on a screen in the menu and begins signing with Smuin. She successfully takes his order, and the two have a heartwarming exchange at the drive-thru window.
Smuin praised the location in his video, saying he’s a “forever customer” and that he wishes “all businesses were as progressive as Starbucks.”
TikTok users were similarly positive about the exchange, with many praising Roth and saying it was “awesome” or “wonderful” that the drive-thru could accommodate deaf customers.
“Give this woman a raise!” one user wrote.
“Talk about inclusive — love this!” another added.
Roth, who later reposted the video on her own TikTok page, used the opportunity to call for greater accessibility at workplaces like her own.
“My hope is that businesses will see this is a need and take action to make things more accessible,” the teenager wrote.
The service industry still has a long way to go in terms of full accessibility, but Starbucks has made some strides.
Earlier in 2020, the company opened its first-ever sign language store in Japan. The location, where 19 of 25 employees are deaf or hard of hearing, is the company’s fifth sign language location worldwide.
If you liked this story, check out this article about deaf TikTok star Chrissy Marshall.
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