News / USA

Signing Santa Brings Christmas Joy to Deaf Children

Santa Brings Christmas Joy To Deaf Childreni
X
December 18, 2013 10:43 PM
For many children in America, sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall and telling him in person what they want for Christmas is exciting moment. But deaf and hard-of-hearing kids, unfortunately, may not be able to enjoy this experience. Unless - they visit a Santa who knows sign language. Faiza Elmasry tells us more about "Signing Santa" in this story narrated by Faith Lapidus
Faiza Elmasry
— Around this time of year, the atmosphere at America’s shopping malls is joyful and festive. Holiday tunes play over the sound system, lights twinkle in store windows and children line up with their parents, waiting for their turn to meet Santa Claus.

“He’s such an icon of the holidays," said Ed Cassidy, marketing and sponsorship director at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia. "It’s almost a tradition at malls throughout the country that there is a Santa to visit [and to] have your photos taken with Santa.”

The visit also gives children a chance to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Deaf children, however, can’t talk to Santa, or hear him, unless they’re visiting the Santa at Fair Oaks Mall. 

He knows American Sign Language (ASL), so he can communicate with them. Cassidy says the Signing Santa first came here last year.

“It was so popular here at Fair Oaks Mall, we decided to do it once more again this year and make it our new sort of annual tradition,” he said.

Susi Brown is a mother of five who was visiting the mall with her nine-month-old daughter, Felicity.

“She failed the hearing test at the hospital," she said."So we knew right away.”

Brown says the Signing Santa gives deaf children, like her daughter, the same chance other youngsters have to participate and enjoy holiday customs.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that we have public events where she can be included with the other [children] because her brother and sisters are hearing and it's always a challenge for me to find things that they can all do together," Brown said. "So when I heard there was a Signing Santa, we had to go because it was so special for her.”

Brown and her other four children are starting to learn American Sign Language so they can communicate with little Felicity.

Learning ASL is also important to Nicole Warman, a deaf mother of two hearing boys, was delighted when she learned about this event.

“I saw it on Facebook, so I shared the information about this event with all of my friends,” said Warman through a sign language interpreter.

Taking her children to meet Signing Santa, she says, is a chance to show them theirs is not the only family that communicates with their fingers.

The couple portraying Santa and his helper are husband and wife. When they're not in costume for Christmas, they're both teachers who work with deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

“The feedback has been tremendous this year much more than last because last year was the first year and not that many people knew about it,” Santa Claus said.

“The thing that I love the most is that they come and talk with Santa directly,” said his elf.

It is said that a deaf child responds to visual stimuli while a hearing child responds to words and sounds. But both enjoy the holidays and become excited when they meet Santa.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid