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December 10, 2006

He checks twice lists given in sign

From: Corpus Christi Caller Times - Corpus Christi,TX,USA - Dec 10, 2006

Hearing-impaired kids tell what they want under tree

By Heather Ann White Caller-Times
December 10, 2006

Santa Claus didn't say a word Saturday, but he still found out if children were naughty or nice.

He used sign language.

About 30 people gathered at Sunrise Mall for Signing Santa, who is one of Santa's deaf helpers, said Benna Timperlake, executive director of The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center in Corpus Christi.

Deaf and hard of hearing children signed their Christmas wishes and had their pictures taken. The event, sponsored by The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center and Del Mar Interpreter Training Club, also was open to the public.

"Our goal is for the children to connect to Santa," Timperlake said. "If they are unable to connect, then the memory of Christmas is never made, and that's awful. Some of these children have never communicated with Santa at all. This is priceless."

It was 11-year-old Paul Encarnacion's first time to visit Signing Santa, his father Nelson Encarnacion said.

"This is very important," Nelson said. "It never really worked out before because Santa never talked to him."

Sitting atop Santa's lap, Paul signed that he'd been good this year but didn't know what he wanted under the tree.

That wasn't the case for Brenda Jo Garcia. The 16-year-old Ray High School sophomore knew exactly what she wanted, quickly signing the way down her list: a PlayStation Portable, extra spending money and a new TV.

Having a Santa Claus available who knows sign language is important, she said through an interpreter.

"It gives kids a chance for them to talk to Santa just like the hearing kids," she said. "Santas that don't talk to you make me sad."

Contact Heather Ann White at 886-3794 or HYPERLINK

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