Santa Calls Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

SCRANTON — Santa and Mrs. Claus are using American Sign Language and videophone to chat with kids all over the country.

It is a program that started at the Northeast PA Center for Independent Living in Scranton six years ago.

“Our director at that time was walking through the mall and it occurred to him, there are children who are deaf who cannot ever sit on Santa’s lap and experience that wonderful moment that children have. So, we got together and we brainstormed and we came up with this program,” said Sharon Quinn, from the Center.

Santa even has a special app on his phone so he can communicate using sign language and he showed Newswatch 16 how it works.

“Now I’m actually able to communicate with these children and deaf children are able to look up at me and say, ‘Santa Claus can sign! Santa Claus can sign! I can communicate with Santa,’ so it’s a very unique experience,” said Santa.

Six years ago, Santa and Mrs. Claus spoke to about 15 kids using the videophone.

Now, they can communicate with 150 kids from as far away as New Mexico.

“It keeps Santa and Mrs. Claus very busy though, I must say you know, checking out all these boys and girls and making sure they’re not naughty, but they’re nice, so it’s a very fun thing for us,” said Quinn.

“Of course I have all the elves that help me and it’s been very busy all year long, we stay busy all the time,” said Santa.

Santa will be making the calls through this Thursday.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a call, email Tom Shaffer at tshaffer@nepacil.org or call (570) 309-0100.



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