Starbucks’ grande gesture for people with disabilities

Over a year ago, I was invited to represent Easter Seals at a two-day meeting at Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. There were about a dozen disability services and advocacy organizations represented at this meeting, along with a dozen or so members of the Starbucks team. We were there to provide input as to how Starbucks could better market to — and increase customer service to — people with disabilities.

The group looked at all aspects of Starbucks — including the physical store, marketing campaigns and product displays. We had a discussion about the rise in the number of people diagnosed with autism and talked about how Starbucks could possibly share information at the stores about Autism and services for autism. You know, like they did recently for the presidential election. We also spoke about having “smart” stores where the environment could be modified for people with sensory needs. Suggestions were made about possibly changing the volume of music, dimmer lighting, and so on.
It was a great two days of idea sharing, and I had a chance to meet a lot of really great people from all over the country. The Starbucks representatives seemed very receptive to our suggestions.

After the meeting, we heard very little from Starbucks (except that they were going through some corporate changes). But then last week, I received an e-mail from Marthalee Galeota, Program Manager of Accessibility at Starbucks. The email introduced the new Braille and large print beverage brochures at Starbucks — these brochures were based on a recommendation from our group. Marthalee credited the guidance and support provided by our group for this accomplishment! It was a long time coming, but hopefully just the start for Starbucks and their increased awareness of people with disabilities as a strong customer and employee base.


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  1. Joanne Says:

    I’ve read many things about Starbucks inclusiveness, employing people with disabilities…
    However, my friend’s sister who has Down Syndrome was furloughed due to COVID, and has now been terminated because they’re eliminating that program. I don’t see us patronizing Starbucks any longer.