Rachel de Azevedo Coleman: signing for the times.

Author:Roberts, Julie
Position:People - Musician creates educational videos which teach deaf and hearing children to communicate more effectively. - Interview - Biography

LOCAL MUSICIAN Rachel de Azevedo Coleman never aspired to become an entrepreneur. However, her deep involvement in her hearing-impaired child's world inspired her to create a unique set of educational videos called Signing Time[TM], enabling more deaf children--and hearing children--to learn to communicate more effectively.

When Rachel and her husband, Aaron, discovered that their 14-month-old daughter, Leah, was deaf, they immediately decided to learn everything they could about American Sign Language (ASL). Rachel's sister and her husband also taught their infant son, Alex, about ASL so he could communicate with his cousin.

After six months of ASL training, both families were astonished to discover that their children communicated better than others their age. "Kids are ready to sign before they are ready to talk," Rachel explains. The parents also discovered that their children rarely had temper tantrums, because they were able to clearly communicate their wants and needs.

Rachel soon found another use for ASL when her second daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Many doctors believed that Lucy's physical limitations would prevent her from learning ASL. But Rachel and Aaron persisted because they had seen the benefits for Leah and Alex. Today, says Rachel, "Lucy still can't pick up a Cheerio, but she can spell her name [using ASL]."

But while Rachel was happy with the benefits of ASL, she wasn't satisfied with the educational materials available to teach the language. She and Aaron bought numerous ASL instruction videos and books and found them all dry and boring. "For me, as a mom, it was really frustrating," Rachel explains. She wanted Leah to be able to communicate with friends, family members and the community as a whole, but she couldn't find an effective way to share the basics of ASL.

A professional singer and songwriter, Rachel decided to create her own educational video using music and colorful visuals and featuring two charming stars, Alex and Leah. One video led to another, and now there are three: My...

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