2020 has seen a major upheaval to life as we know it. But this year, Christmas with hearing loss doesn’t have to be all Grinch and no Santa. With a little time and some creative thinking, Yuletide can be as much fun as a snowball fight.
Take what happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The much looked forward to annual Grand Meet with Santa was cancelled as a meet and greet event due to COVID-19 restrictions. It still went ahead, but as a drive-thru instead. Families still got to have the experience on December 5 and were even able to stop along the trail for refreshments.
At the end of the trail, the kids got to use American Sign Language (ASL) with Santa to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. They also received a gift.
“At the end of the trail, the kids got to use American Sign Language (ASL) with Santa.”
Another great story came in from Charlotte, North Carolina. They featured a welcome new Christmas addition this year – a virtual Santa who can communicate with deaf children via ASL. Not only does this Santa appear on camera, he also gives the children glimpses into his workshop and a look at his reindeer. Five-year-old Lucas Phelan said this was the best part.
In Bradford, West Yorkshire England, something special happened for their residents who are experiencing the toughest of the UK’s new “tier three” rules. Unable to go to the now-cancelled Christmas events, locals were encouraged to decorate their own front windows using as much imagination as possible.
This provided a Christmas trail experience for people to either see on foot or driving by. Fun, a little thoughtfulness, and bit of effort can make a world of difference to others on the outside. This story also goes to show that Christmas for people with hearing loss can be made special by concentrating on the visual aspects of the holiday.
The morning of December 21, the UK’s National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) held an online coffee morning on Zoom. This was aimed at parents of deaf children as well as the children. It was an informal way to meet other parents and their kids. Activities were provided, along with useful information and the opportunity to hear from deaf volunteers who talked about their own experiences as parents.
These events are proof that Christmas 2020 will not be remembered as the year that Santa Claus forgot. Instead it just might be seen as the year of innovation.