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Confused About Kickstarter? Let Me Help!

Dated: 1 Aug 2013
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Crazy Little Thing Called Life
3 Comments

Confused About Kickstarter? Let Me Help!

Kickstarter is a platform where Creators can launch new projects. Anyone, anywhere can become a Backer by making a Pledge and getting cool Rewards. You only get your Rewards if the project meets its funding goal. Your credit card is never charged if the goal is not met.

It is not a donation.
It is not tax-deductible.
You are not a traditional investor.
If you like a project and want to help it become a reality, you Back it and Share it with others. If enough people (aka the crowd in crowd-funding) Back a Project it becomes a reality!! Everyone wins!

We have Rewards that range from $25-$10,000 (Seriously, want a Rachel, Alex & Leah concert? That’s $10,000) And you can even Pledge less than $25 and choose no Reward. You could also Pledge $100 and choose no Reward if you wanted:)

We met our Funding Goal on July 27th, but it’s not over!

There are Stretch Goals: each additional $50,000 Pledged above our initial goal will trigger the following exciting things:
1. We WILL make an additional episode! (Episode 1 is done. Episodes 2 & 3 are funded through Kickstarter. Episode 4 is 43% funded right now when it is 100% funded we will make it!)
2. We will open additional Rewards for YOUR CHILD to appear in OUR SHOWS! ($350-500 pledge)
3. We will open another Executive Producer Credit ($1000 pledge)
4. We will open another On-screen Dedication Credit ($1000 pledge)
5. Each Backer who has pledged to Rewards of $25 or more will receive EACH of these new episodes at no additional cost (delivered digitally).

YOU get to say how many shows WE make! <---how cool is that?

Realistically this means we could raise $500,000 and for a $35* Pledge (or above) you could receive ALL 12 episodes of Rachel & The Treeschoolers!! Pledge and Share! Pledge and Share!

Here, I’ll walk you through how it all works on this video with my brother, Aaron.

*25 Early Bird pledges are all gone.

Have We Made A Difference For You? ~ A Letter to You, From Me

Dated: 27 Jul 2013
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Behind the Signing Time Scenes, Crazy Little Thing Called Life, Unanticipated Milestones
9 Comments

Dear Friend,
 
Here at Two Little Hands, we have been told by TV executives that our newest shows are too educational for television. I don’t think our shows teach too much – I think most TV shows teach too little.
 
So, we’ve decided to take our new show, Rachel & The TreeSchoolers, directly to you through the crowd-funding site Kickstarter!
 
What is Kickstarter?

  1. It’s a website where anyone can pitch an idea for a project.
    In our case, we are pitching our new show, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers.
  2. If you like the idea, you can “back it” by making a pledge.
    Whether you donate $1, $10, or $10,000, every bit helps!
  3. If you “back it,” you get a reward.
    You can get DVDs of Rachel & The TreeSchoolers. The more you pledge, the more exciting the rewards. At one pledge level, I’ll even write you a song!
  4. If we reach our goal, the project gets funded and you’ll get your rewards. Our funding goal is $50,000. (If we go beyond and reach $500,000 we can complete all 12 TreeSchoolers shows!)
  5. If we don’t reach our funding goal, we get nothing, you don’t get a reward, and you won’t be charged. It’s all or nothing.

 

We are committed to making shows that:
  • Engage children through movement, music, and language
  • Empower and educate children
  • Teach values
  • Make a real difference

 

The truth is we can only continue to make shows if we know there is a demand for them. If our shows Signing Time and Baby Signing Time have made a difference for someone you love, now you can make a difference for the next generation of children by backing Rachel & The Treeschoolers on Kickstarter.

CAPTIONED HERE

 

Thank you!

 

There’s Nothing Wrong With Your Child: A Message From Leah & Lucy

Dated: 23 Jul 2013
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Crazy Little Thing Called Life
7 Comments

I’m so excited to share my article There’s Nothing Wrong With Your Child. Really. It went live today on WhatToExpect.com in their Word of Mom section.

I hope this gives some peace and perspective to those of you who struggle with what to expect when you get the unexpected… like we did.

Rachel Coleman is the Emmy-nominated host and one of the creators of the children’s television show and DVD series, Signing Time! and its sister-series Baby Signing Time! Inspired by her daughter Leah’s deafness, Signing Time teaches families to communicate through American Sign Language. Rachel’s newest project, “Rachel & The Treeschoolers,” takes on the ambitious task of teaching a full preschool curriculum in 12 musical episodes and activities. (You can become a part of making Treeschoolers a reality by participating in our Kickstarter campaign)

Rachel and her husband, Aaron, reside in Salt Lake City, Utah, with their daughters Leah and Lucy, and Lucy’s Canine Companion service dog, Wilona. Rachel shares her family’s unexpected adventures (aka “life”) on her blog www.rachelcoleman.com.
Rachel is a board member for The American Society for Deaf Children. She is the President of the Signing Time Foundation whose mission is to put communication in the hands of all children of all abilities.

Covered In Love

Dated: 22 Apr 2013
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Crazy Little Thing Called Life, Unanticipated Milestones
167 Comments

Covered In Love: Our Experience With Canine Companions for Independence

The application has been filled out and it sits on my desk for close to a year. It is repeatedly buried by bills and then excavated as I pay the bills and file them away. It surfaces. I ignore it. Sometimes it feels like we might be biting off more than we can chew. Just, ask anyone and they’ll agree that Aaron and I already have our hands full.

Lucy has been struggling; it’s been two years of really unpleasant behavior. There is crying in school, outbursts at home, scratching, biting, swearing and resisting transitions. We’ve come to suspect that Lucy’s cerebral palsy may be the real culprit. As we meet parents of kids that have CP they share many similar stories, debilitating anxiety, uncontrollable outbursts.

So, the application sits on my desk another day, another week, and another month.

Whisper
I do a presentation in Sacramento, California. Nancy coordinates the event and takes us to lunch afterwards. Nancy’s service dog, Whisper, is by her side during the event and at lunch.

Over lunch I tell Nancy about Lucy’s fear of dogs, how every time a friend calls to invite Lucy over for the first time she asks two things,
“Mom, do they have stairs?”
“Mom, do they have a dog?”

Being in a wheelchair, if a dog jumps up on her, licks her, sniffs her, or puts their open mouth near her… she is helpless. She can’t just turn around and walk away. She can’t push a dog off. When dogs bark she flinches, she jumps.

I’m not a dog person, never have been. I secretly believe most dogs want to bite me.

But… Whisper… Whisper is just that, quiet and almost invisible! Whisper doesn’t sniff, bark, or jump. At the restaurant Whisper doesn’t give Nancy the “you’re eating and I’m not” stare. Whisper is quiet under the table and doesn’t even seem interested in dropped food. Whisper doesn’t take a potty break unless given a command. Whisper knows more than 40 commands.

Now, I’m fascinated. This seems like the perfect dog! Nancy agrees that Whisper is the perfect dog for her. They had been pre-matched through Canine Companions for Independence. I catch a glimpse, a little slice, of what having a service dog in our family might actually be like. I’m intrigued by Whisper… I actually like Whisper!

After lunch, we walk back to our car. Before leaving, I hug Nancy and say, “Thank you so much! I’m mailing in our application as soon as I get home.” Nancy encourages us to do it and she promises that we won’t regret it. I do my best to believe her.

A Team of Three
Within a few weeks of popping that application in the mail, we get a phone call from Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside, California. They’ve reviewed our application. We’ve passed the first step of the process and they are calling to set up a phone interview!

On our phone interview we’re nervous and not quite sure how a service dog can help Lucy. We find out that since Lucy is not 18, she won’t hold the leash. This means that a service dog doesn’t free up our hands, it ties up one hand! I try to fathom pushing Lucy’s wheelchair, managing a dog AND signing to Leah. Hmmm. We find out that the dog can’t go to school with Lucy and some of her hardest times are at school. Hmmm.

The Skilled Companion team is made up of three- the dog, the recipient (Lucy) and the facilitator (myself or Aaron) and that team can be certified to go in public, on airplanes, in restaurants… anywhere really, as long as it is a team of three.

I’m still not sure what a service dog will DO for Lucy. If we are right there… and we always are, we can pick up dropped items, and we can open doors. Are we really going to ask a dog to do that? Seems superfluous. In the interview we mention Lucy’s difficulty with transitions and how even though we fought for her to attend public school, with socialization in mind, her behavior was isolating her socially.
Our interview ends. Aaron and I look at each other confused. Was that good? Was that bad?

A few weeks go by and we receive another call from Oceanside, California. Every time they call, I get emotional, confronted, excited, nervous, hopeful, my eyes fill with tears. I see the number on my phone and scream, “AAAAAHHHH!!! YOU GUYS, IT’S CCI!!!!” Everyone gathers around to see what it is they have to say. This time they say that we are invited to come for a face-to-face interview in December! We will work with dogs, learn about the next steps in the process, and share what we hope our family can gain from this new Companion.

I book the flights, car and hotel room. Our interview falls on the weekend of Leah’s 15th birthday. We make a vacation of it- and decide to squeeze in a trip to Sea World, perfect!

It’s December, we pull up to the CCI campus and my eyes fill with tears. Geez! Why am I so emotional? We unload and check in, meet the group of other hopefuls and get a tour of the campus.

The Fam

We spend part of the day in lectures. We learn the command sequence that facilitators use with the dogs and we practice the sequence and corrections on “carpet dog” not a real dog.
Then, they bring in real dogs. Aaron volunteers to go first. He loves Labradors.

Aaron at CCI

Since he goes first, I have to go second. I’m nervous, and I give the dog a correction before the dog has a chance to execute my command. I take a breath and remind myself to have realistic expectations. I get another chance and do better. I just don’t want to blow this for Lucy, if it really is an option to get a dog placed with us, with her. I praise the dog and it’s real praise, I’m SO happy that the dog actually sits when I ask it to sit.

The day ends with our face-to-face interview. In some ways it feels like we are designing our dream dog… “We would like a dog that isn’t aloof, one that will approach Lucy, since she can’t really get to the dog herself.”

It seems a tall request but I have to make it, “No barking?” We are told that is an easy request, none of the dogs bark, not even when the doorbell rings. They only bark on command. I’m baffled.

We request no excessive licking, sniffing or jumping up. This turns out to be an easy request; none of the dogs do that.

“No jumping on furniture” Done! The dogs will not get up on anything without a command telling them to do it.

I imagine the future episodes of doggy-doo tracked in the house. No, the dog won’t go to the bathroom unless you give the command, they are always on leash, so you just pick it up immediately. Really? No “landmines” tracked in from the yard?

We are now clear what the dog won’t do. But what will this dream dog do for our family? Maybe, it will be that missing piece that eases transitions? Perhaps it will become a built-in best friend? Will Lucy’s focus be on the dog rather than on her fears when we are out and about? Will people talk to Lucy about her dog, “Is that your dog?” rather than talk to me about Lucy, “Why is she in a wheelchair?” Any one of those might make a difference.

Aaron asks the final question, “Why would you place one of these amazing, highly trained animals with us? We can do all of the tasks for Lucy, I mean, we already do. We would just hate to take one of these dogs when that might mean that an adult or someone else who could really use it misses out or has to wait longer.” (We’ve already been told that the wait could be a year or longer.) The Instructor interviewing us smiles and says, “Lucy is absolutely a qualified recipient. The Skilled Companions meet a different need than a Service Dog. You aren’t taking anything away from anyone else.”

And that is it. We pack up. Say our goodbyes and watch Shamu splash around.

Lucy at Seaworld

If we pass this step we will eventually be invited to Team Training; a two-week course where we live on campus and are trained to work with the dogs. We are told that we will not be called unless there are two potential dogs pre-matched with us, that’s why the wait can be a year or more.

Summertime
“AAAAHHHHH!!!!! YOU GUYS, IT’S CCI!!!!!!” I’m in the car with Lucy and Leah, headed to Lucy’s swim lessons. I turn off the radio and everyone gets quiet. “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Becky at Canine Companions, we are calling to invite your family to Team Training for two-weeks in August.”

“Really? Really? Ok…. let me check our calendar and I will get back to you.”

Sometimes I fear what my calendar has to say. The calendar shows the first week of the two is scheduled for Camp Attitude- a week long camp created for children with disabilities, in Foster, Oregon… and the second week ends with my Signing Time concert in Boston.

Ok. Family Conference!
We sit down and discuss both options and decide we should take a vote.

“All in favor of going to Camp Attitude in Oregon?
One vote.

“All in favor of CCI in California?”
Three votes.
The votes will remain anonymous;)

I call Camp Attitude and cancel our spot. I call CCI and let them know we are coming. Lucy starts crying, “I don’t want to go! I don’t even want a dog!”

“Lucy,” I say, “it’s okay, it’s okay. I know you’re nervous. I am too. Listen, we can go and if it’s not right for us, we can choose not to have a dog. That’s part of the design. We go. We learn. We make a choice. But, remember, we’ve never had a dog pre-matched to our family. We’ve never had a dog that is trained like this. If we don’t go, we won’t ever know. If we go, we can be free to make a choice based in reality, rather than a choice based in a reaction, or an assumption and fear.”

She agrees.

We pack and drive to Oceanside, CA the first week of August.

As we pull into the parking lot of the CCI Campus, I’m overcome with emotion again! Seriously?

“This is real, you guys. This is real! We are here. We are in Team Training!!!”

We park, and Lucy informs us that she is NOT coming in. “Ok,” Aaron says, “whenever you are ready.” We’re pretty sure that at some point in the next two weeks she will choose to get out of the car. We unpack and go to our dorm room. It’s bigger than we imagined. We have a private bathroom, a bed, a hospital bed and a blow-up mattress and there’s still plenty of room for Lucy to maneuver her wheelchair. Sure enough, in a matter of minutes Lucy rolls in and our girls take off to explore.

Welcome Colemans

They discover two refrigerators in the kitchen; one filled with cans of soda. They are thrilled. Aaron and I get the full report from Lucy, “Mom, there’s Fanta and root beer and Dr. Pepper and even Cherry Coke, your favorite!”

Leah discovers a library of movies on VHS. The girls are excited to watch them all. There’s Apollo 13, Big, Forrest Gump, Castaway, and more. They start an unofficial Tom Hanks movie marathon.

Lucy and Leah come back and excitedly tell us that in the training room there are 12 dog crates with pink or blue nametags. We sneak in and read the names: Topper, Huntley, Waddie, Malvern, Wilona, Talia, Kong, Janessa, Leann, Donahue, Leon… hmmm, we discuss which names we would prefer NOT to have to call out for the next 8-plus years of our lives. (Malvern and Wilona top the list) We’ll start our training in the morning. It’s 9am-4pm daily. We’ll have Sunday off.

The following day we have lectures. We practice the command sequences. We practice with carpet dog. We learn so much about dog behavior and human behavior.

Breakfast and lunch are provided almost every day. Volunteers come in and feed the eight hopeful recipients and their families, and the whole staff.

After lunch the real dogs are brought in. CUTE! CUTE! CUTE!
Really? We are pre-matched with one of these awesome dogs? We look them up and down.

Day 1 CCI

We “ooooh and ahhhhh.” Aaron and I strategize coat colors and try to figure out what color we most prefer in shedding. (We did ask if we could get a dog that doesn’t shed… they all shed.)

We are told to try not to get attached and to try not to get our hearts set on a certain dog. The instructors bring the dogs around and we meet them. We are excited and nervous. Now, we work with the dogs. Leah keeps a secret tally, tracking the dogs that Aaron and I work with. We try to sort out which ones we might be pre-matched with.

The next day we work with more dogs, Leah keeps track. There’s one dog that I fall in love with, but I do my best not to get attached. She’s cute. She’s so white! According to Leah’s tallies we’ve worked with her most. It’s Wilona. Yes, one of the names we had originally said, would not work for us, and now it didn’t matter. She was Wilona, Willow, Willy, Wilsy and Wil. We pretend not to be super excited every time we work with her. Leah and Lucy do their best to suppress grins and giggles of joy. We try not to look disappointed when we work with another dog.

The third day of Team Training is when we are officially pre-matched with a dog. Everyone arrives to class on time. We anxiously await the announcements. They start with Lucy. “Lucy Coleman, you are pre-matched with…. WILONA!” They bring Wilona over to us and hand us the leash. I’m crying and smiling. Aaron has tears in his eyes and he roughs up Wilona’s fur. Lucy grins and buries her face in Willow’s neck. Willow licks Lucy twice and sits down by our feet. Leah has happy tears streaming down her face and signs, “I can NOT believe this is happening!” True. It is unreal.

She's ours

We learn so much. Day after day we work with Wilona. She stays in our room. The first few days I watch her with an eagle eye.
Is she going to get into the garbage? Nope.
Is she going to have an accident on the floor? Nope.
I take her out to toilet hourly, just in case. Wilona sniffs the grass, and then looks at me like, “really? I just went.”
Is she going to jump up on the beds? Nope. Not unless we say, “JUMP”.
There is no barking, even when we say “SPEAK” she looks at us warily, as if to ask “are you sure?”

Day after day, night after night, she’s a perfect angel. At some point we realize that Lucy has only had one outburst in almost two weeks. We are living in a new place. We are surrounded by new people and eight dogs… and Lucy is doing great!

Lucy and Wilona

We tell Willow to JUMP up on Lucy’s bed. Lucy falls asleep with one hand on her dog. Lucy falls fast asleep and doesn’t ask us to “snuggle”. Our daughter hasn’t fallen asleep without her nightly snuggle for 12 years. To our amazement, Lucy sleeps through the night. Our daughter has not regularly slept through the night in her whole life!

Sleepy Girls

We are in class until 4pm daily, and then we head to the beach. Aaron takes photos of sunsets… Leah, Lucy and I photo-bomb his really beautiful pictures.

Sunset Plus 3

Time flies and we are coming up on our final tests and graduation day. Every day we have quizzes on what we’ve learned. We practice with the dogs in restaurants, at the harbor, the mall and K-mart.

At The Pier

Aaron walks in our room one evening to find me snuggled up on Lucy’s bed with Willow. “Now, that is something I never thought I’d see in my entire life!” he says.

We play with Wil. We wrestle her. We play fetch. We brush her fur and brush her teeth. We clean her ears. I use a Dremel to file her nails. She never bites. I relax. “Mom” Leah says cautiously one afternoon, “you are covered in dog hair!!”
“No, Leah, I am covered in LOVE!” …And I am, I’m covered in love.

On graduation day we meet the amazing family that voluntarily raised Wilona for her first year-and-a-half. They gave her the groundwork, training and love to actually fulfill the job she was born to do. Only 20-30% of the dogs born and trained for this actually get placed as Service Dogs. We have brunch with her Puppy Raisers and they give us a book with photos of Willow’s first year and a half. When we come up on stage for graduation, they tearfully pass Wilona’s leash to Lucy. We tearfully accept. Wilona is officially Lucy Coleman’s Skilled Companion.

It’s amazing how much love, time, and dedication go into each one of the Canine Companion dogs. It’s amazing how much time, devotion and training goes into each family and recipient. Canine Companions is a not-for-profit organization, privately funded by donations. We paid for the gasoline to drive from Utah to California. We bought a few dinners. We bought a crate. Everything else, was given to us, everything else; leashes, collars, food bowls, a huge bag of dog food, toys, brushes, shampoo, toothbrush, poultry flavored toothpaste, a place to stay, meals and training… given to us. It almost seems too much.

Wilona has now been with us for eight months. The difference in our entire family is ridiculous. I never could have imagined that a dog would give us so much. I think back to those early interviews, our concerns and the question of what a dog could provide for Lucy, for us. Now I know why no one could answer that… it’s because there are no words to describe it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so hopefully here’s a glimpse that communicates at least a tiny bit of the joy, peace, and love that our family found, in what seemed the most unlikely of places, our Canine Companion, Wilona Coleman.

Looks Like Love

Wanna Play?

First Day of School

At the Hospital

In the Car

Snow Day Wilona_0039

Day 10 Ghana 2012: Leah’s Wisdom

Dated: 15 Mar 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
34 Comments

Monday, January 23, 2012
Last night we stayed up late and packed. We still have no running water. It was a really hot and miserable night. Jen and I are sharing a room. I woke up and saw that she was all cocooned up in her light blue sheet, (we brought our own sheets to use on top of the hotel bedding). The power was on and the fan was near her, so I said, “Jen, if you are too cold and want to kill the fan, go for it.” She peeked her head out and reached over and hit the “off” button. Immediately were hit with hot and humid air. It was so fast! “Ah!” I groaned, “or… you can feel free to turn it back on!” We both started laughing, as she quickly turned the fan back on.

Today is our last day. Curry, Aaron, Leah, Jen and I got up early and went to visit the deaf school in Koforidua. It’s very different from the school in Mampong. The Koforidua school has two vocational programs for their students, one trains them in the art of batik fabrics. The teacher walked us through the process.

I told her that Leah is an artist and the teacher suggested that Leah could stay with her for a few months and learn to do batik. I, for one, cannot think of a better option if Leah has rough teenage years. It’s nice to have an open invitation to a third world country for vocational training and a reality check, that’s for sure! The fabrics are beautiful and some of the designs are hand drawn in wax, while others are stamped, with carved wooden stamps, that have been dipped in the wax. The school sells this fabric to help pay for the cost of the programs.
(Click on photos to enlarge)

Every year, Signs of Hope visits and purchases large amounts of the batik fabric. Last time Curry came and purchased their fabric, the program used that money that to buy a new serger. The school also has a leatherwork program. The students are trained to make sandals, wallets, and belts.

This deaf school also has a special education class, the children are taught to Batik as well. We were told “their work is not perfect, but it’s still a good opportunity for them to learn.” Today was the first time that I saw children who have Down syndrome here in Ghana.

Today was a special day, because I was able to meet up with Amma, who is the mother of Shirley, who follows me on twitter. Shirley had seen me tweet when she found out about our Team going to Ghana. Her mother happened to be there already and had brought Signing Time DVDs with her for their family members. Amma met up with us at the Deaf school and took the tour with us. She has started the Kentucky Academy a Kindergarten program that also feeds the children. They currently have 100 children in their program.
It was great meeting Amma and she was excited to see the deaf school too. She and her husband have a group of volunteers that come from the University of Kentucky and she said that in the future their volunteers could stop by this deaf school when shopping for fabric. She asked me how, with all of my fans, I even saw the tweet from her daughter, let alone took the time to respond. I told her, it’s because I am not “a real celebrity”, it seems that “real celebrities” just collect followers, but rarely interact with them.

We went back to Mampong and made a hurried visit to Aburi. I stopped by Modest Fashions and got my dresses.

Then we went to the wood district and got the Wooden Probar.

I rushed across the road to see how Lucy’s wooden lollipop was coming along. My wood-carver was nowhere to be seen, but his Uncle handed me a cell phone. “Madam, I am sorry. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make the lollipop.” I was pretty bummed. The one thing Lucy had asked for and I wasn’t going to deliver. I walked back across the street where Aaron was still talking to Sammy. When I told them what happened, Sammy said, “I will make you a wooden lollipop by three o’clock!” We left for a few hours and when we came back…

We went to Mampong for lunch and had the most delicious chicken, rice and fried plantains. We all ate until we were stuffed!

We went back to the school for our last visit.

We hugged the children, told them goodbye and many of them pointed to the sky and told us that they would watch for us in an airplane flying over their heads.

As we made our way from the school grounds to toward the road we noticed a young woman who was signing and then we noticed that the person with her put their own hands beneath hers as they replied. Miracle of miracles, it was Sylvia! Leah and I went over and began signing with her. She was pretty confused at first and asked for her translator. Then Sylvia put her hands on Leah’s and Leah told her, “I am Leah.” Sylvia touched Leah’s face and hair, and recognized her, “Leah? You have grown! Your hair is braided too.”


Sylvia told us that she is now in high school, she passed the tests and is now the very first deaf-blind student all of Ghana to enter high school. We congratulated her, talked a little more and then really had to go. We needed to pack, load the tro-tro and get to the airport. The rest of our Team had moved on without us, but it was okay. Leah and I said our goodbyes to Sylvia and then, I took my daughter’s hand and we walked down the dirt road to the street. My eyes were full of tears and I glanced over and noticed tears streaming down Leah’s cheeks. She was smiling. I signed, “What is it?” She signed back, “Mom, she’s the proof. Sylvia is the evidence that anything is possible. She’s a deaf, blind, Ghanaian girl who is now in high school and plans to go to college. Mom, it’s not our circumstances that keep us from reaching our dreams. It’s our excuses that keep us from reaching our dreams.”

I put an arm around her and we walked. The sun was setting. The sky was smoky. We were both hot and tired. I couldn’t help but think back to the day in 1998 when Aaron and I found out that our one-year-old toddler was deaf. I had cried. I wept. That day, I imagined many, many different things, things that my baby girl could never do. I also imagined many things that I would have to give up, like writing and performing music. Honestly, what I couldn’t do back then was imagine all of the wonderful things that would happen to us. I couldn’t imagine the countless friends that we would have around the country and around the world. I couldn’t foresee how many lives we would touch, or how many children we would help with their communication. I had no idea of the many, many lives that would impact ours.

“I’m going to come back, you know.” I said to Leah.
“I know, mom” she said, “I’m coming back too.”

Day 9 Ghana 2012: Be The Change

Dated: 6 Mar 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
8 Comments

Sunday January 22, 2012
It has been hot, but today seemed hotter. Maybe that’s because we have no running water. The power has been on and off, mostly off.

Today Marco and Hannah came over for a little visit. It was great spending time with them.

Ronai and Jen followed some locals who were going to church. Their plan was to peek in on the services. Turns out they ended up being the main event. They were brought up to the front of the congregation, songs were sung to them and blessings and prayers were said for them. Oh, and they danced while the members of the church caught their dancing on video with cell phones.

When they came back to tell us about their adventure, both Curry and Marco had basically summed it up before Jen or Ronai could even say a word. Curry’s volunteers have had that same idea before, and from all accounts there is no sneaking in, or sneaking out for that matter. Marco was laughing so hard when we told him where Jen and Ronai had gone. He said, “They might come back having been baptized. They could be the newest converts!”

The preacher had asked them their names so he could pray for them. Their names are Jennifer and Ronai… so he blessed their work, their group and blessed everything our hands touch, for good. He blessed, “Jennifer and her friend”… (Long pause.) Heh, heh. Jen and Ronai smiled, it’s not the first time someone wasn’t quite sure of Ronai’s name, (it sounds like Renee but with an O. Ro-Nay). But, the preacher continued, “her friend, whose name is so powerful we cannot speak it!”

You can guess what we call Ronai now.
Here’s a link to Ronai’s Ghana Blog :)

Marco and Hannah left and lead most of our group on a “hike” exploring the back roads and visiting the cocoa farm.


Hannah works at the school’s kitchen so she took them on a tour of that too.


Can you imagine cooking for 250 students without an oven or fridge? Love the wheels though, those still make me smile.

I stayed at the hotel because I was anticipating company. Five years ago I took a course through Landmark Education and it really impacted my life. I have since continued taking various courses over the years and one of my Seminar Leaders happens to have a son-in-law who lives in Ghana. I had planned to meet Anthony on Sunday. He lives a good 45 minutes away from where we are staying. Cell signal is hit and miss, but when I finally got ahold of him he told me that his ride had not shown up. We made a new plan to meet in Accra at the airport on Monday night before I fly out. I hope it happens.

Carissa, Pablo, and I sat under a ceiling fan and chatted for a while. Carissa works with The Signing Time Foundation and she coordinates my outreach events when they are partnerships with Instructors in our Signing Time Academy. Since Carissa lives in Portland, it has been nice to sit face-to-face and discuss the evolution of Signing Time and its many offshoots. We’ve been able to chat about upcoming outreach events too. (It looks like I’m coming to Boston MA, Sacramento CA, Portland OR, Peoria IL, and Fremont CA this year. So far.)

When our crew returned, we went up to the school to play with the students.

When we arrived at the school campus the school bus pulled up. The JSS students (middle school) had gone to Accra to attend a deaf church there. They were all dressed in clean white shirts. (How do they keep those whites so white?) Some of the oldest students are now allowed to grow their hair out so that the students at the vocational salon have heads of hair to practice on. Many of the JSS students remembered us from our 2008 visit and “Where’s Alex?” was a frequent question. It’s easy conversing with the JSS students, they are smart and they are getting/understanding their education. Many of them said that they love JSS, and that the Primary School had been boring.

Carissa, who is in an interpreting program, was telling some of the teachers here that some of her teachers, back home, are deaf. They did a double take. They couldn’t imagine deaf teachers being allowed to instruct hearing students. I had never considered how bizarre this would seem to them, since they have deaf teachers at the school, but the deaf teachers here teach deaf students. They asked if there are deaf doctors, deaf accountants or deaf bankers. They asked if the deaf were allowed to drive and how they accomplished that. Of course, Carissa answered all of those questions and the teachers looked back and forth in disbelief.

The high school has expanded and they are working on building more dorms for the students. It has been explained to us that one of the biggest problems in the high school is that even though English is the official language in Ghana, the deaf students are not graduating with enough English proficiency to be accepted at any of the colleges in the US. They are not equipped to realize their dreams of attending Gallaudet or similar universities. Signs of Hope was trying to implement an English program in the high school, but the headmaster there has a very specific way of doing things, and from what I hear, it seems to involves outside organizations first donating large amounts of money in order to bring in any program at all. (Rachel grabs her braids and pulls them in frustration!) This situation will likely persist until there is a change in staff. I JUST HAD AN IDEA!!!! The Primary School and JSS both have programs through SOHI. What if we bring in English programs before high school! What if we could implement an English reading and writing intensive program? (Why do I suddenly envision myself living in Ghana for a good portion of the year?)

In November and December I was doing some soul searching. I was wondering what my life is for. Not a cry for help, mind you, I was just considering 2012 and what problems are worthy of my life. I mean it. Is there a cause that I would die for? Of course I have day-to-day problems like everyone else, like Lucy’s Science Fair Project that’s due the day we get back home.(Eek!) But, honestly, if altering the future for a group of “forgotten” individuals was possible, well, I dare say THAT would be worth living for and worth dying for.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the plight of many Americans is summed up in one question: Am I happy?
It’s dangerous. We run around in pursuit of happiness and all we need to do is stop running. Hold still. Experience reality. Be grateful. Give something away. Surprise someone else. Be a little kinder. Be a little gentler. Be just a wee bit less judgmental. Be the change we wish to see in the world. Give others the space to have their own beliefs. Let go of the assumption that our point of view is the correct one.

What if peace, love, and happiness is not about more, bigger, and better. What if it’s about disappearing your “self” in service of others?

Signs of Hope comes back to Ghana with volunteers in May…

Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow we go home.

Day 8 Ghana 2012: Taxi Etiquette and Wooden Lollipops

Dated: 2 Mar 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
5 Comments

January 22, 2012 (It appears that I lost a day! It’s Saturday… the 21st, but I wrote that yesterday was the 21st. I guess that’s just what happens when you are on a plane for 22 hours. I hope I find that day later. Wow, I’ve really misplaced 24 hours.)

Lucy insists that she is “fine!” Yesterday, I called her, then our power went out, AND then phone died. Tonight I called and apologized for the abrupt end to our previous conversation and I explained why I was unable to call her back. Her response was, “Mom, it’s okay, it’s Africa!”

Today, our plan was to sleep in a little. Our sleeping intentions were thwarted because power outages have no impact on chainsaws. At 7AM someone with a chainsaw started working and it sure sounded like it was taking place just outside out window. Leah slept like a log, of course, and we all envied her.

Part of our Team went to town and to the Cocoa Farm. The rest of us hung out, wrote in journals, or did homework. It was a HOT-HOT day!

Leah, Aaron, Carissa, Pablo, and I took a taxi to Aburi. Aaron and Leah took the first taxi that stopped because there were already a bunch of people in it and there was only room for two more bodies. Talk about “ride-sharing”! The next taxi saw that there were three of us standing on the side of the road, and he pulled over to pick us up. Here’s the thing, there was already a driver and two passengers in the taxi. The two passengers were in the back, so Pablo took “shot gun” and… wait for it… I got to sit on Carissa’s lap. The driver and the other passengers were waving us in, like this is just no big thing. As we were driving, the teenage boy in the back suggested that he should climb up front and sit on Pablo’s lap so that there would be more room for the ladies! Times like these, all we can do is crack up and the complete absurdity of it all. (This special moment was captured on camera and can be seen on Carissa’s Blog… awesome)

Curry told us that once he took a public tro-tro and the thing was packed so tightly that it was terrible, but what really made him crazy was that someone had brought their goat along and it was under his bench, licking the his calves throughout the entire ride! Can you imagine?

We got to Aburi and walked through town. I guess our seamstress takes Saturdays off, we had hoped to peek in on our dresses. We walked to the wood district.

In the days before leaving for Ghana, I had asked Lucy if there was anything she wanted me to bring home for her. “Yes” she answered, “bring me a carved lollipop.” Ok, truth be told I have been to the wood district once already and have not asked anyone to carve her a lollipop. I thought maybe she was kidding, I mean a wooden lollipop? Last night while on the phone, I asked her again if there was anything special she would like from Ghana and she answered… “Yes! I told you mom, I want someone to carve a wooden lollipop for me.” Today I will ask Alfred if he even knows what a lollipop is. Jen found a Sees lollipop in her bag. I brought it with me as a model, even though it’s square. Curry bought a lollipop in town and gave it to me to take as a model too.

In Aburi, I bought a purse for me and one for Laura. I went to Sammy’s shop and bought some carvings. I bought one of Sammy’s “parent & child” carvings and one of his “lovers” carvings- these will go up on Ebay for the Signing Time Foundation.

Aaron is having something special made for our friends at ProBar, he checked on that and though it’s not yet finished, it looks awesome! I crossed the road and went to Alfred’s shop and ordered the lollipop. I asked Aaron to take a photo of the gas station, because it looks cool!

Jen, Curry, Ronai, and Ellie arrived as we were wrapping up.

Carissa picked up her custom nativity scene and an angel for her mom. We bought bags of water to drink and we walked back to the taxi station. Aaron, Leah, Pablo, Carissa, and I all got into one taxi. This time, Leah sat on my lap.

Joyce is the very sweet, on-site manager of the hotel. She is very quiet. She is continually surprising us with things like telling Carissa to tell Aaron to “stop trying so hard with using his right hand, we have ‘leftys’ here too!” (In Ghana you do not use your left hand to wave at people or during a business transaction. The left hand is considered unclean. Though at the deaf school you can use your left hand for signing. You should see the amount of additional steps Joyce takes in avoiding her left hand when serving us dinner, and opening our sodas and pouring them into glasses.)

Another night Joyce let us know that if a Ghanaian guest is joining you for dinner, you wait for their arrival before you start eating. This is common sense, but we had forgotten what night it was and we had forgotten that a guest was joining us. Joyce helps keep us from making complete fools of ourselves, when she can.

Dinner has been chicken and rice, most of the time. She thinks it’s funny that we order it nightly because, “there are other things to eat.” She found it even funnier when she heard that most of us ordered chicken and rice for dinner, when we spent the night in Cape Coast. Tonight we are having spaghetti with the hot, spicy red sauce. One night we did have vegetable stew and rice. It was cooked cabbage and carrots and onions in the spicy red sauce.

Part of the fee that we each paid in our Ghana expenses was to sponsor some of the deaf children who would otherwise be unable to attend school. We also raised some money for a service project here. The request was that we do some painting and we had been asked to re-paint every chalkboard… they are blackboards and wow, you sure end up with a lot of black smudges all over yourself when you use them. When we arrived at the school, we were told that painting the backboards was no longer necessary, but they wanted us to take the money for the paint and supplies and purchase whiteboards. Curry suggested that they might get more for the money if a Ghanaian made the purchase, rather than if we went to town. (You wouldn’t believe how much some of us have paid for taxis and other things, simply because it’s obvious that we are not local.) The whiteboards should be hung by Monday.

Tomorrow, Marco and Hannah are coming to visit. It will be great to spend some time with them.

Every night we sit here in the common area. We share snacks like licorice and cashews. We talk, laugh, decompress, and sing. The spontaneous singing seems to throw off Carissa. I, for one, think it’s quite normal to burst into song! (Hard to imagine, I’m sure.) Oh, and our bat circles through the common area. Yes, the bat is back, every night.

Day 7 Ghana 2012: Rain Forest Highs and Slave Castle Lows

Dated: 28 Feb 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
7 Comments

Friday January 21, 2012

This morning Jen, Ronai, Pablo, and Carissa rented a paddle boat… of course they chose the green one that actually worked (what a bunch of chickens!).
I guess they learned from my experience… don’t take the yellow one.

We had breakfast and took off for Kakum National Park.

The views were beautiful. It was pretty scary to let go of the ropes, but scarier to take that first step. The platform to the bridge is suspended 130 feet above the rainforest floor. There are 7 bridges that run over 1080 feet through the air.

Our visit to The Elmina Slave Castle was fascinating and sobering. It’s never fun hearing the history of slavery. All we can do is learn from those mistakes and promise to do everything within our power to never let that happen to human beings again.

Here are some views from the castle.

After our tour of the castle we were headed back to the tro-tro for the long drive back to Tutu.

Curry asked if we wanted to stop for lunch or if we wanted hit the road and get back to Tutu. We told him we had lunch with us.

The drive is so fascinating. Words can’t describe… pictures help, but even pictures don’t really do it justice.

Maybe this one will give you a better feel:)

When we got back to the hotel in Tutu we were filthy. We used baby wipes to clean off our hands and faces. We were hot and sticky. We pulled up to a pitch black building. This was the hotel, but once again the power was out. You should see us running and stumbling around when the power goes out. The worst is when you are in the shower and the power goes out, because if you are unprepared, you are just a mess.

Joyce made chicken and rice. We took our meds and hit the sack. There is nothing to do when the power is out. I called Lucy and there was no answer, but I know that Lucy’s fine motor skills don’t always cooperate. I left her a message and then called right back. This time, my sister Emilie, Alex’s mom, answered. I guess it has been like Grand Central Station at our house. My mom, my younger brother Aaron, my sister Emilie and her kids have all been coming and going, rotating on a daily basis. Our friends, Jana and Eric have been stopping by too with their kids. All of them have been such great support to Lucy’s caregiver, Estella, and to Lucy. I spoke with Lucy for just a few minutes before the phone died. I’m happy to know that so many people are supporting Lucy, and that they are keeping her busy and distracted.

*In the past four days we have received anther $600 in donations! Thank you so much for your kindness, interest, and generosity. Now we only need to raise $3,650 to cover it ALL!

Day 6 Ghana 2012: Botel, Braids, and Chicken Bones

Dated: 25 Feb 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
12 Comments

Thursday January 19, 2012

We are now at Hans Cottage Botel (that’s not a typo) in Cape Coast. Our four-hour drive took six hours. It was 6 hours of breathing red dirt and diesel fumes without air-conditioning in a van with 10 other people.

The windows were open, for better or for worse. If I end up with emphysema, I know why. I brought one bandana with me and I gave it to Leah to wear over her nose and mouth, because, I am a mom and that’s what moms do.

We arrived at the botel, checked in and I dare say this is the first time I’ve checked in somewhere and found rat droppings on the bed sheets and headboards. Ronai’s shower is full of bugs and more rat droppings are on the beds on her room. I finally found the giant spiders! There’s a big one in Aaron and Leah’s bathroom. Would you believe Curry had actually upgraded our rooms when he checked in.

We were all hot and sticky with layers of dirt plastered to our faces, arms and hands. We had dinner and Leah promptly threw it up, over the railing and into the pond. At least the crocodiles ate well that night. Leah may have overdosed on carcinogens for the day, who knows. Maybe it’s the Malaria pills… which is a medication that we discovered is only taken in this large quantity to keep people Malaria free AND this dose treats certain STDs. (What? Yes, that’s why the pharmacist was looking at us funny.) There you have it!

Aaron did get an electric shock while in the shower tonight. I wore shoes in the shower, so I think that’s why I escaped that excitement of getting shocked this time. I learned my lesson four years ago.

I guess I should start by writing about this morning. This morning started with our daily egg. I skipped it and had a Probar. We have polished off the coffee packets, but thankfully we grabbed a box of Starbucks Via while in the JFK airport. I had a headache when I got up this morning at 7am, as if my brain is trying to figure out WHY ON EARTH I’m getting up for the day at midnight??? My body seems to take a 4-hour nap when I hit the sack, but that’s because it’s 5pm at home and so I sleep just long enough to thwart a good night’s sleep. So… coffee, Probar, Advil and off to school I go!

This morning, Emilia measured Leah in the sewing room for a wrap skirt. The five other skirts for everyone else were already finished!

I went over to the L’Oreal Training School (it has been here for 3 years) and I got my hair plaited. They started working on my hair at 8am.

They finished at 2pm. I’m not kidding!
I had such great conversations with the two teachers who were training the high school students. The teachers kindly shared their lunch with me. Three spoons, one plateful of chicken and jollof rice. I learned so much from talking to them and listening to them. We finished lunch and they asked my why I had not eaten the chicken bones too. I wasn’t sure how to answer that:) I said, “I didn’t eat the chicken bones because it has never crossed my mind that I could or should eat chicken bones.” I now know that “you get your calcium from eating the bones.” (I still didn’t eat them.)

I was a little worried when they brought a flame to my hair, but Aaron was close by and promised to “stop-drop-and roll” if things got out of hand.

I may have had concerns about the giant scissors too.

My braids look awesome!

Meanwhile the rest of the classrooms were labeled by the Team and the students were taught that everything has a name and a sign. Everyone took a turn teaching. It was great!

Carissa and Pablo delivered the school supplies that we had purchased for the SOHI students. They packed up all of the things that we had purchased at the Koforidua market, and loaded them in a taxi and brought it all to school.

Joyce, who oversees the hotel and our dinners, had a long chat with Carissa, “you are not missionaries trying to save our souls, are you? You are all many different religions aren’t you? So, why are you here?” This lead into a lengthy discussion about deafness in the US 30 years ago, and deafness in Ghana today. Joyce suggested to Carissa and Pablo that she could learn GSL and care for some of the deaf children on break whose parents don’t come back for them.

She had told us that her mother’s name was Lucy, when we told her about our daughter Lucy Joyce. Aaron showed Joyce our family photo and explained spina bifida and cerebral palsy to her. Later, Joyce told Carissa, “their daughter Lucy is as beautiful as art, “ but she said that she was glad that we had not brought Lucy with us to Ghana because people here see her as a burden and they would offer to “help” with her. “They mean, ‘to take care of the problem’ forever.” (That’s the part where the color drains from my face and I feel sick to my stomach.) The phrase, “Don’t do me any favors” has new meaning.

We had asked Lucy if she wanted to come with us to Ghana. She thought it over. We talked about what it would take to make sure she had clean water for her medical needs, the immunizations required, and that we would mostly carry her on our backs when the dirt roads wouldn’t work for her manual wheelchair. Her power wheelchair is not an option. Lucy thought it out for days. Ultimately she chose not to go. Lucy always knows best!

Day 5 Ghana 2012 Continued: Everything Has a Name

Dated: 23 Feb 2012
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Going To Ghana
9 Comments

January 18, 2012 Continued…
After the Signing Time posters were all divvied up, I slipped out and caught up with the teacher who was left with none of the supplies. “Listen,” I said, “don’t lose heart!” I told her to watch for Lucy in Signing Time. “Yes, I have two special kids. Carissa and Pablo have two special ones as well. We are all in your classroom for a reason. It’s more than where our hearts are, it’s our daily lives.”

I promised to send what she needs with the next group of Signs of Hope volunteers in May. Then I found Curry and told him that we needed glue, markers, and white paper. (The teachers didn’t have these basic things in their classes.) Curry went to town to get the supplies, while everyone else was helping in Special Ed. I popped my head into another class and offered to help. The teacher said, “Yes, please teach this lesson on cultural diversity and religion.” (GULP!) She handed me the manual and a piece of chalk and she took her seat at her desk. (Double GULP!) I hope you are laughing. I wasn’t.

It turned out to be a lesson in cultural diversity and religion for me too- and before you go to your automatic “file” about we should all know about religion let’s remember that “we aren’t in Kansas anymore.” It’s one thing to teach the lesson and another to teach it in Ghanaian Sign Language.

The Muslims call Him _________. (Allah) <---that one I knew, but before you Google Search the next ones, remember that I had NO internet access. So, TRY to fill in the following blanks (and sign it if you dare).
The Ewes call Him _________.
The Gas call Him __________.
In our language we call Him _________.
(Clearly no separation of church and state.)
Well, I did it, and let’s say I was sweating bullets because it was noon and 90 degrees in the shade. Yeah… that’s why I was sweating.

The bell rang for break and snack time, literally a hand-held bell. Curry returned with the white paper, markers, and glue. We jokingly asked if he had just gone to the nearest Lakeshore Learning Center or if it was Utah Idaho Supply. We found scissors and went to work labeling the Special Ed. classroom, just as Aaron and I had labeled our first apartment when Leah was a toddler.

By the time snack break was finished the room was thoroughly labeled and I was ready to move on to the next room to do the same thing there. I figured our Team could give the students the signs, context, etc., for what had just happened to their classroom. Curry stopped me and said, “Rachel, will you now give this language to the kids?” About a zillion things went through my head like, “Dude, some of these kids didn’t know how to fingerspell their own names yesterday, they can now because of the Team, but…” I stopped and wondered what I was resisting. Would you believe I STRESS about being put on the spot? I thought about the conversation with the staff just a few hours earlier and saw it, I knew what to do and what to say- “Put your money where your mouth is Rachel Coleman,” I thought, “word, sign, concept/object. GO!”

I began signing, “what did we do?” I swept my hands towards the labels.
“What do these mean? Hmm, I wonder! My name is R-A-C-H-E-L. My name sign is ‘R’+smile.” (signing my name sign)

I came up to a boy and signed, “What’s your name?” Thankfully every shirt is labeled with the child’s name. Since he was “new” he was trying to remember how to fingerspell his name, so I helped him, we fingerspelled, “I-S-H-M-A-E-L” then I asked him, “name sign?” He showed me his name sign. Then I repeated it, telling him, “Your name I-S-H-M-A-E-L and your name sign is ‘signing name sign.’ You have a name and a sign!”
I went to the next child and signed, “what’s your name?” He fingerspelled “J-A-C-O-B” and he showed me his name sign. I smiled and responded, “you have a name and a sign too!”

Then I went to where we had glued a label to the wall and signed, “This is W-A-L-L” and then I signed wall. “It has a name and a sign too!” I then showed them all of the walls in the room, and that they all were labeled “wall”.

I moved on to the windows, the buckets, the bowl, the desks, the chairs, the door, the cupboard, the lights, the blackboard, and the fan. I showed them each label (the written word) and then we fingerspelled each word together, and then I taught them the sign. “Everything has name and a sign!” The students understood.

Ok, it was exhilarating! I was so excited that I was almost frantic. I asked the students to stand up and find the names and the signs. They naturally broke up into groups and began searching around their class. It was awesome!

…and here is my all time favorite picture from the day:)

Jen and I moved on and began labeling the next classroom. We kept at it until the bell rung for lunch. Then we gathered our group and started to walk back to the Courtyard Hotel. Carissa, who has a tough time complimenting me, said “Rachel, that was genius! We were trying to figure our how to connect the labels, but ‘you have a name and a sign, and so does everything else’ it was genius!”
Genius or not, it worked. Ok, I’ll go with “genius” ;)

When you consider the ground that we have covered in the last three days, this trip has already been worth it.

Some of our Team dropped off fabric to Emilia, the school seamstress and sewing teacher. She is making wrap-skirts for Jen, Ronai, Leah and Ellie. We also visited the new “L’Oreal Hair Academy” that is now here on the campus and set up hair appointments for tomorrow morning for me and for Pablo. It’s a training school for the students.

We had lunch and set out for Aburi.

Aburi

Joyce, who works at the hotel, came with us. Carissa, Aaron, Joyce, and I got in one taxi and went to Joyce’s seamstress at Modern Fashions. Carissa and I picked out dress patterns and got measured. We met up with the others at the wood district, where we bought, bartered, laughed and said “hello” to Alfred, and another artist who has done a lot of custom work for Curry, named Sammy.

Aburi Wood District

We spent a few hours browsing. I picked up a few things that I will sell for the Signing Time Foundation when I get home.

I bought this necklace for myself and I bought a second one for bidders on Ebay

We are still about $4,300 shy of covering ALL of the costs of the trip and the service project. We have raised enough to pay for the students sponsored by Signs of Hope and we have paid for their supplies.

We returned to the hotel for dinner and for a presentation by the past president of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf. The power was out before dinner, so he almost rescheduled his presentation. The power came back on just in time. The presentation was great. He shared all about being a deaf individual in Ghana and told us that in 2006 Ghana passed a Disability Act. He also told us that there are only 24 interpreters in all of Ghana. There is only one high school for the deaf in Ghana and it is the one that is right here in Mampong. When we were here four years ago there were 150 students who had tested into the deaf high school. There are now over 300 students attending the deaf high school. This is such great news, it’s proof that teachers who can sign, are reaching the students who are deaf. Progress!

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