Starbucks’ New Store Offers Accessibility for Employees and Customers


The smell of freshly roasted coffee may not be the only thing that catches your attention when you enter the new Starbucks in Washington, DC’s Union Market District. The store is the first to incorporate Starbucks Inclusive Spaces Frameworkdesigned to go beyond ADA compliance and expand independence, choice and access for employees and customers.

The Inclusive Spaces Framework was created in partnership with a diverse community of customers, employees and accessibility experts. Rosemarie Rossetti, a wheelchair user with paraplegia and accessibility consultant, was part of a team that met for five weeks to develop innovative ideas on how to address accessibility pain points in the employee experience.

“Each week we would review specific workstations in a Starbucks store, things like working in the drive-thru, heating food, or making hot or cold drinks,” Rossetti says. “We then brainstormed in depth and documented our ideas on how various tasks, equipment, and the physical store could be designed to improve the experience for a wide range of employees, including people with different types of disabilities.”

As a result, some of the new physical and digital features Starbucks plans to implement include:

  • Electric doors installed whenever possible, which They include a longer vertical push button that is easier to activate from higher heights and angles, designed to reduce the effort required to open the door.
  • Optimized acoustics and lighting to help create a more inclusive audio and visual experience for customers and employees.
  • A portable ordering system at the point of sale with an adjustable angle stand for better visibility and an intuitive, customizable design. The POS system offers voice assistance and screen magnification, displays images of menu items to support language diversity, and provides visual order confirmation to help ensure orders are correct.
  • Bottom counters with cantilevers to accommodate wheelchair access and support better communication when picking up food and drinks.
  • Pedestrian paths without obstacles with open sight lines and barrier-free paths with more accessible store designs.
  • A 3-in-1 bathing device that dispenses soap and water and dries hands, designed to limit the amount of reach needed to wash hands.
hands under a chrome "wash bar" -- an elongated U-shaped faucet.
A device that allows you to get soap, wash your hands and dry them in one place reduces the need to reach the bathroom.

Starbucks aims to expand accessibility and inclusion by incorporating the Inclusive Spaces Framework into all newly built and renovated Starbucks stores in the US.

“At Starbucks, we’ve challenged ourselves to imagine what’s possible when we take a closer look at the many ways our partners and customers interact with us and experience our stores every day,” says Katie Young, senior vice president of operations. of store. “Building and expanding an inclusive store framework is critical to our mission of connection and will lead to greater access for all.”

The framework will also be open source to help expand accessibility across business districts. “I think it’s exciting that Starbucks is making this framework open source to develop it further with other companies and expand its use throughout the retail industry,” says Rossetti. “Businesses have a critical role to play in moving beyond compliance-based design and ensuring their products and environments are places where everyone feels welcome.”


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