Signing Santa visits deaf students at Brennen Elementary School
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) —
As Santa Claus gets ready to visit children around the world, one part of his job is knowing how to communicate in every language — including American Sign Language.
Deaf students at Brennen Elementary School got a surprise visit from “Signing Santa” today.
Sponsored by the Richland Sertoma Club, the event has been taking place for the past 20 years.
Santa signed to the children while one of his helpers read a Christmas book.
He then handed out special gifts to all of the children and staff.
“It’s very very important because sometimes we don’t know what a child wants if we don’t know their language. And I think it’s true about really any language and any age. No matter if you’re young or old or no matter what language that you speak or sign, everyone needs a Santa Claus,” Santa said and signed at today’s book reading.
Emilee McAbee teaches deaf children at Brennen Elementary School and loves to see when Santa — or his helpers — knows sign language.
“When kids go to the mall and they see a Santa that’s just talking, they can’t communicate with. They can’t share what they want for Christmas, or how they feel about Christmas and the holidays. It’s important that they can communicate,” McAbee says.
Kimberly Williams is deaf and has worked at Brennen Elementary School for 11 years. She says the children love getting to communicate with Santa.
“Oh wow. It’s really meaningful, because Santa can actually sign with them and speak to them. You can just see it in their faces. They’re like ‘Wow! He can sign to us. I can communicate with him. We can understand each other. We don’t have to have an interpreter.’ It is just literally so exciting,” Williams says.
According to the Sertoma Club’s President Karen Rood, the organization also holds Camp Sertoma for over 200 deaf children between seven-years-old and 13-years-old each year at Lake Hartwell.