The Santa Who Speaks With His Hands

By Omar Villafranca
|  Thursday, Dec 23, 2010  |  Updated 7:31 PM CDT
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Hearing-impaired students from three <a title=North Texas cities visit with a Santa who speaks sign language." />

Omar Villafranca, NBCDFW.com

Hearing-impaired students from three North Texas cities visit with a Santa who speaks sign language.

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Santa speaks all languages -- even the ones that can't be heard.

More than 150 kids went on a field trip to the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano to see a Santa who speaks their language.

This Santa knows sign language. The kids are members of the hearing-impaired community.

They got a chance to sit with Santa and tell him their Christmas wish list using American Sign Language. Most of the kids in line waiting to see Santa wear specialized hearing aids to help them distinguish noise. Some are profoundly deaf, a term meaning they can't hear anything.

But that doesn't stop them from being kids -- dozens of them waited in line and laughed and played in the fake snow while waiting for Santa.

"This is truly the best thing that happens to our kids all year long," said Sarah Schubert, a teacher at Mesquite Lawrence Elementary. "They came up to me this morning and said, 'You know that Santa can sign with us?' I mean, they get that!"

The man behind the big Santa suit, who didn't want his name used, said he loves signing with the kids.

"I sign to them and say, 'Come up and see Santa Claus,' and their eye and their mouths are just open wide and they go, 'Wow!' And sometimes they just run and their expression is just, it's -- it's priceless," Santa said. "Some people can make mistakes signing, but the expressions, that explains everything."

For parents, the "Signing Santa" as he's called, is a chance for the kids to enjoy the holidays like everyone else.

Stephanie Villarreal, a parent who is hearing impaired, said she had problems asking Santa for gifts when she was growing up.

"He had this huge beard, and I read lips, so I couldn't understand what he was saying, and so I had to ask my mom or dad," she said. "Santa speaks all different languages. He visits the entire world, so the fact that he even includes deaf kids is amazing."

Villarreal isn't the only parent who felt that her kid was lucky.

"He's very lucky, because 10 years ago, I don't know that he would have got to talk to Santa," said Sherrie Teal, who was there with her son Weston.

And what did 8-year-old Weston Teel ask Santa for?

A popcorn machine and a bubblegum machine.

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