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Deaf frozen yogurt shop employee inspiring others to learn sign language

Posted at 7:03 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 23:59:02-05

PHOENIX — A north Phoenix frozen yogurt and ice cream shop is trying to bring attention to the deaf community. A deaf employee at Desert Swirl at Thunderbird and 43rd Avenue is inspiring customers and coworkers to learn sign language.

Chloe McBee, 25, has only worked there for three months, but she's already had an impact on the community. She said she loves working.

"Putting sprinkles on it, the kids smile, she enjoys that, she thinks it's awesome," said her mother, Keena McBee, who was interpreting the interview.

Chloe is deaf, and her mom said because of COVID and masks, there's been an added challenge for her.

"A lot of deaf people --they can't read lips right now, so the communication is even more hard for them," said her mom.

Her mom told us Chloe had applied to dozens of places that wouldn't even consider her. Her friend and shop owner Faith Sheehan was happy to bring her in.

"She is definitely an inspiration to learn sign language and her signs are so enthusiastic and she's just super enthusiastic and optimistic, it's really contagious," said Sheehan.

Sheehan knew some sign language and has been practicing with Chloe.

When she works, the shop puts out signs to alert customers that Chloe is deaf. They provide a keyboard that allows them to type out their orders.

"Customers have really liked her too, we have customers coming in just to see her and meet her. All of them are trying to learn sign language," said Sheehan.

Chloe said she's using it as an opportunity to teach others.

"She signs ice cream, yogurt, she teaches them slowly," said her mom.

Faith and Chloe have made a few TikTok videos about working as a deaf person. They show how to use the keyboard and even a few words to sign when ordering. One of the videos went viral.

Chloe said she was shocked to see the responses.

"They think it's cool. And that she works there and she has a job and she's deaf, it's cool," said her mom.

Chloe hopes it inspires others like her and motivates businesses to hire more people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

"She's hoping that in the world, the deaf and hearing community can work together and sign and communicate," said her mom.

"Communication. There's always avenues, there's always different ways to do it," said Sheehan.