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Santa Uses Sign Language To "Speak" With Deaf Students

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Jolly Old St. Nick gave a group of kids with a special need some special attention Tuesday morning, letting them deliver their wish list in their own unique way.

It was all about smiles, snow, and Santa at the Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater.

"I like Santa, he's my favorite," said one smiling youngster through a translator.

Deaf and hearing-impaired students from Miami-Dade Public Schools spent the morning bonding with Santa and sharing their holiday wish lists the only way they know how, through sign language. The best part of it was that St. Nick signed right back.

"It is important to be able to look at them individually, and you see in their eyes, you see that deaf culture comes out, they are able to express themselves because that is so important," said Santa.

Andy Altman, a counselor with Miami-Dade Public Schools, is also deaf. He said it is a magical moment for these children to share their wishes with a Santa who is just like them.

"They feel a bond. Other hearing children go see Santa and speak with him, Spanish-speaking children go see a Spanish Santa, so to have this language, this access, it is a very special, especially during the holidays," said Altman through a translator.

More than 100 students got to visit Santa. This was the 17th year for the program, the sixth year at the Dolphin Mall.


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