Signing Santas began I don't know when, I think in the late 70s when I was already practically a grown up. Over the years they have become a staple at many shopping malls across the country. At others, it is a relatively new tradition. Newspapers run short pieces and photos, usually with a title like "Santa Claus speaks to deaf children in their language." Some malls have signed entertainment -- story-telling or signing choirs -- along with the signing Santas.
Both hearing and deaf people can be signing Santas. The only requirement is the ability to sign, a little rotundity doesn't hurt, and of course the ability to get along with small children and the young at heart.
At a Christmas party given by a local deaf association that had a signing Santa, I realized that it is not just deaf children who need a signing Santa - hearing children with deaf parents do too! Unless the Santa signs to their child, how is the deaf parent going to know what Santa is saying to their child? Maybe Santa's helper will interpret for deaf moms and dads?
Do you have a picture of your child with a signing Santa? I would be happy to use it to illustrate this article, with your permission. Email me at email@example.com.