We often do not consider how much more difficult simple daily communication interactions are for people with hearing impairment, especially for those who are completely deaf and communicate via sign language. For example, something as simple as ordering a cup of coffee has to be approached in a completely different way. Ibby Piracha is a 23-year-old male who is deaf and most mornings goes to his neighbourhood Starbucks in Leesburg to grab a cup of coffee. As Ibby does not communicate verbally, he goes about this by stepping up to the counter and typing his order into his phone then showing his screen to the barista.
But on Friday, the barista used sign language to ask him what he wanted. She then handed him a note that said, “I’ve been learning [American Sign Language] just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.” Piracha was shocked. He had no idea the barista he saw multiple times a week was learning sign language. “I was like ‘wow.’ It brought a smile to my face,” Piracha said. “I was really surprised she had started signing. It wasn’t anything I had asked her to do. She had taken her own initiative and she had done it herself.
Ibby then took to social media to post about the experience on his Facebook page and requested that his friends share the post to raise awareness of the hearing community supporting the deaf community. Since the day of the experience, more than 2,500 people have shared the post.
Piracha, who spends most of his time in Leesburg, said he has never before encountered a service employee who has communicated with him in sign language. “I was glad to hear someone supporting the deaf community,” he said. “Sometimes we feel kind of pushed away, and I wish hearing people were a little more assertive to learn more about us and our community.
The employees from Starbucks at Edwards Ferry Road in Leesburg did not speak to the media; however, a spokesperson from the Starbucks’ corporate office has said Starbucks is proud that their employee took the initiative to learn American Sign Language.