New Starbucks barista is deaf, inspiring others


PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL. (CNN NEWSOURCE) – A deaf employee from Colombia is working hard to get promoted at a Florida hotel and her bosses say she’s succeeding in everything she does.

8-months at her job in customer service at the Hyatt Place Boca Raton and Angie Diaz has picked up more skills than you can count on your fingers.

“My team members, when they found out I was deaf, they didn’t really know how to handle it. They thought maybe it would be really hard to communicate,” Angie Diaz said.  

Diaz moved from Colombia and was learning a new language while finding a job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says only about 19-percent of people with disabilities are employed in our country, far less than the general population.

“In the past, I really had a lot of struggles and I really had to open myself up to opportunities,” Diaz said.

She went through the “disability services hospitality training program” with Careersource.

Diaz learned skills and was provided an interpreter in class and at the hotel when she was first hired.

“She’s no different from anyone else, it’s just the few alterations we have to communicate with her,” Sharon Ballard said.

General manager Sharon Ballard says Diaz has given excellent customer service.

So much so, she’s being trained in a new promotion as a Starbucks barista.

“So she’s working a bit one-on-one with the guests, and then hopefully we’ll be able to get her at the front desk as well to just move her up in her career,” Ballard said.

“I have a really go-getter personality and I showed them that we can find ways to communicate,” Diaz said.

Diaz has been such a success here.

4 other deaf associates have been hired in Hyatts nearby from the program.

“All of this collectively has helped me become who I am. And I feel like I have really established myself as a deaf community member here, and I continue to learn and I feel so proud about that,” Diaz said.

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