Imagine this: you're six, waiting in line for ages just to see that big man with the fluffy white beard. Johnny said that he pulled it right off one year, but no one believed him—after all it's SANTA for crying out loud! No one can pull off Santa's beard! One hour, two hours, three... and finally, you're on his lap! His lips open and—
You cry. His lips are moving, but you can't understand him. Santa, someone who was supposed to fly all over the world in one night and know how to speak in all languages for all children, couldn't speak to you. You couldn't hear him, and he couldn't figure out a way to help you understand him.
Next year, you're traumatized. The next, too. And the next, and the next, and the next. Eventually, your parents have to explain that Santa isn't real just so you don't feel left out, like that big jolly man didn't love everyone in the world execpt for you. You're deaf, and Santa doesn't like deaf kids.
Now let's go back in time, maybe a week before you went to go see Santa. Santa went to a seven day class on how to say "Do you want a big present or a small present," "Are you excited," and "Act out [sign he doesn't know]." Santa wouldn't necessarily need to know the sign for "dinosaur," that little six-year-old child could simply tell Santa about the giant dinosaur they wanted by acting like a dinosaur. They would know that Santa liked them, and they would have a great time—just like every hearing child there.
Unlike most spoken foreign languages, American Sign Language (ASL) doesn't take years to figure out. After two years of German, I still can't say "I played a really fun video game when I was a child," but after two classes a week for 42 weeks, I can easily sign things like "I really need help with my math homework. I had to pick up my medication and the pharmacy closed during class, so I had to miss it."
21 classes and I could sign things like that. 21 classes and, while I'm still a slow signer, I can keep up in a conversation and gifure out how to sign words when I don't know the actual sign for it. I can act it out, look silly, look excited... and guess what? Mall Santas can do this, too. Seven days to save a child from the idea that Santa doesn't love them enough to learn their language.
This lack of support is just one of the many signs of audism in America, a lesser-known form of oppression that states that people are superior based on their ability to hear and prevents the adequate treatment of Deaf individuals. Most people are hearing, so why should we accomidate the Deaf? Why do basic doorbells that alert the Deaf to visitors cost a minimum of $30 while a more advanced one for the hearing can be found for as little as $13? Why do people stare when I sign in public, but not give me a second glance when I'm speaking? Why did the servers avoid us like the plague when I was at a Deaf event, but suddenly crowd around me when they found out that I was hearing?
We have treated the Deaf horribly over these past few decades. Institutionalization, being refused an interpretor after being arrested, being forced to speak when they can't hear what they're saying... It's time to stop. Let's start reforming the way we treat the Deaf by starting with their children and making sure that their holidays are as merry and bright as everyone else's.
So come on, mall Santas. Let's take seven days to learn some basic signs and make some children happy this Christmas.