Hey Santa! Before You Disappoint Any More Kids, It's Time To Learn Sign Language

Hey Santa! Before You Disappoint Any More Kids, It's Time To Learn Sign Language

It's not that hard. Seriously.


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.

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I Think I Have Telephone Phobia And It's Serious

While a lot of people commonly fear clowns, darkness, and heights, I fear phone calls.


Is it just me or does anyone else dread having to make and pick up phone calls? Am I also the only one who gets really sweaty and goosebumps everywhere whenever the dial tone sounds? I hope it's not just me. Maybe it's the idea of a disembodied voice over the speaker that scares me or maybe it could just be me being socially awkward for no reason.

Who knows? But I do know that whenever I have to make a phone call, I have to prepare ahead of time, and if you actually see me do it (which I won't let you), you would see that it's an extremely daunting process. First, I type out what I want to say and the questions that I want to ask on my laptop. Sometimes, if it's an important phone call, such as to a place that's hiring or looking for potential interns, I prepare multiple sets of responses in case the conversation doesn't go as planned. Then, I read what I wrote two or three times out loud to myself and correct whatever doesn't sound right because you know, things usually sound better in my head.

I rehearse the finalized version another two or three times, and after that, I muster up all of the courage that I possibly can and force myself to dial the number. Finally, when the person picks up, I do my best to read off of my script, even though it's staring at me straight in the face, and try my best not to sound like a robot. Did I also mention that, when I can, I lock myself in a room so that nobody can hear me? Well, I do that, too.

This is exactly why I avoid receptionist jobs. I don't like having to call someone that I don't know because I tend to stutter a lot when the person on the other end picks up, and it's hard to predict how those phone calls will go, so I can't really prepare for them as I would do at home. Usually, I'm afraid that I won't know how to respond to the callers' questions, and I don't want them to know that I don't know how to answer them, but I also don't want to put them on hold and take up their time.

It's especially bad when an office is so quiet that everyone can practically hear all of the "ums" and "uhs" that come after every word I say. This makes me even more self-conscious about the sound of my voice, and I often say to myself, "Is this really what I sound like?" It's basically just an endless cycle of trepidation. Another thing that gets me is the instantaneity of phone calls. It's not like texting or emailing where you can choose not to respond right away. You could even leave the person on delivered or read if you really wanted to, but you can't do the same when talking on the phone unless you hang up on them, which won't be good for either of you.

Isn't it ironic how the phone was invented so that people could communicate by calling, and yet, I don't use it for that purpose? I tell my friends not to call me because I tend to respond better on Messenger or iMessage because I have time to think over my response. If it's an emergency, then I'll make an exception, but otherwise, I try to avoid phone calls at all costs. My parents are probably the only other exception because they're my parents, and both of them say that they'll take forever to respond by texts, so I really have no choice.

In all honesty, I prefer anything but a phone call. You could send me hundreds of postcards, letters, and emails or even spam my Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. You could even write a message on a paper airplane and throw it to me. I don't care, but just don't call me. Will I ever get over this? I should, but I probably won't, which sucks, but I'll manage. I think.

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