Tips for visiting Santa at ChristmasPublished Date: 05 Dec 2019
We’re definitely at the time of year when the kids are writing that all-important letter to Santa and they want to see him in person, but it’s not always that simple when you have a deaf child/children.
The best advice I would give a family planning to take a deaf child to see Santa is to pre-plan! A visit to Santa is such a special memorable occasion it’s important to get it right. There are some ‘Signing Santas’ out there but they’re not always accessible to everyone.
We’ve been extremely lucky with our local deaf children’s society to have had an amazing Signing Santa for two years running, who takes time to sign to the children who use British Sign Language (BSL) and takes the opportunity to teach sign language to the families of the children who don’t. But I do realise that unfortunately this isn’t the case for every deaf child.
Santas in department stores and shopping malls are becoming increasingly commercialised so it’s difficult to avoid a shopping spree on the way to Santa’s grotto!
There are other Santa experiences out there which I have found to be quite expensive, especially if you have more than 2-3 children and are not terribly accessible for deaf children. I’ve found the best ones for our deaf children have been at events run by charities. We have a local brain injury charity which hosts a ‘meet and greet’ with Santa where children with any disability are welcome to spend the evening with their family. Fun festive activities are available and there is a 20-30 minute slot allocated to see Santa, all for a small donation. Santa had time to sing a Christmas carol, listen to a list as long as your arm and even learn some sign language.
An occupational ‘hazard’ for deaf children is Santa’s beard and moustache! Deaf children can find it very difficult to lip-read most of what Santa is saying. Again, having more time with Santa means time can be spent helping your child with communication.
In my experience, the events run by charities are best as the charity receives well-needed funds from the event and the deaf child experiences their own individual, magical time with Santa.
That said, we have done the shopping mall Santa in the past and I have whispered into an elf’s ear that my daughter is deaf and could Santa possibly sign thank you. As it happened that Santa actually did know some sign language and on the elf’s tip-off, he signed ‘I love you’. That was one of those totally unexpected moments that made such a difference to our daughter.
So really, any Santa visit can become accessible to a deaf child with just a little bit of forward planning!