Along the H Street corridor in D.C., two local branches of huge international corporations have been joined by a scrappy Napolitana pizzeria to cater to a locally prominent demographic: the deaf and hard of hearing. These business locations are run entirely by the deaf and cater to the deaf community that has arisen around Gallaudet University, the first institution of higher education exclusively for the deaf and hard of hearing. Each business uses visual aids, body language and American sign language to make eating, drinking and doing business an inviting experience for hearing and non-hearing people alike. All three businesses incorporate aspects of what architects call “deaf space” into their stores. Deaf space often includes open, circular design, low-glare reflective surfaces and a lot of good natural light that reduces eye strain. Starbucks took lessons from their first deaf-operated location in Malaysia; the chain now has six such locations.

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