Meet Elizabeth

Meet Elizabeth

Filming Baby Signing Time is always an interesting process. I often, semi-jokingly state that the whole idea of Baby Signing Time was based on a dare. I mean really! Who in their right minds would take 50+ children ages 2 and under and try to film them signing? Kids that age sign because they need or want something. They sign to communicate. They RARELY do it on cue. So, if your signing toddler refuses to “show off” their mad-signing-skills, no worries, WE believe you! Babies sign to communicate, NOT as a fancy baby trick.

Last March we received an email from a mom in Texas, Katy Barrett, she and her husband are speech pathologists. Their story had been on their local news and now they were writing to share that the Today Show was going to be telling their story!

The Barrett’s daughter Elizabeth was the focus of this national media tale and the phenomenal part is that Elizabeth has incredible reading skills for a toddler. The Barrett’s contacted us because Signing Time was the only show they had ever let their daughter watch and they felt that signing not only fostered early language and early communication, they believe it also impacted her amazing early reading skills.

The Today Show producer contacted us for some clips of Signing Time to use in the piece and the segment aired March 10, 2008. Since I wasn’t sure how much they would say about Signing Time, I didn’t make a big announcement, but anxiously watched. There were three segments with the Barretts and sure enough, one of them showed some clips of Signing Time.

March 2008 Today Show Clip

March 2008 Today Show Story in Print and Video

My mom called early that morning and said, “Rachel!!! I JUST saw you on The Today Show again!!!” (She “screamed” it more than “said” it.) She said “again” because in February 2003 The Today Show did a story about my little family! It was called “Against The Odds”

We thanked the Barrett’s by sending them the complete Signing Time Library. I mean really, that’s the least we could do. (And if YOU manage to garner positive national media attention for Signing Time, I’ll send you the whole enchilada as well!)

Around the same time in March, we started the casting process for our new Baby Signing Time shows. I got in touch with the Barrett’s again and invited them out to the shoot, giving Elizabeth the chance to appear in her favorite show!

Fireese and Elizabeth sign FRIEND

Fireese and Elizabeth sign FRIEND

Elizabeth’s mom, Katy agreed to do an interview with us about the benefits of signing and how she feels it made a difference for her little girl. From that interview, we created the following piece that appears as a special feature that you can see that on Baby Signing Time Volume 3 – A New Day.

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Can’t get enough of little Elizabeth reading? Don’t believe it? Well, I sat down with her myself, wrote up some pretty big words and phrases on cards and had “Reading Time with Elizabeth and Rachel!” Take a look. I was shocked. I bet you will be too!
(Included in the following video are some additional behind the scenes shots.)

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THIS morning, (Friday November 7th) The Today Show is planning to revisit little Elizabeth and her family and give an update. This time they asked for clips of Baby Signing Time. So, set your DVR or tune in to see more of this incredible little girl. (Barring any breaking news, of course)

Who knows… maybe my mom will call me screaming again.

This entry was posted in Behind the Signing Time Scenes and tagged , , , , , by Rachel Coleman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Motivated by her child, Liam's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 22 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: American Sign Language Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. They are parents to Liam who lives in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old. Rachel is now Grandma Ray Ray to Laura's daughter Marley.

20 thoughts on “Meet Elizabeth

  1. Elizabeth is amazing!!!! Way to go girl!
    Rachel, I signed up a week ago or so…
    I would like to thank you for creating Signing Time. My son Nicolas, 19 months, loves it! He signs at lot!!!! It’s soooo cute 🙂
    Actually, I speak Portuguese with him, my husband English, and I think he understands both languages because of Signing Time 🙂
    Thanks for everybody working with Signing Time!

  2. Pingback: Today Show highlights Toddler who can read-Signing Time helps | Learn Sign Language - Signing Time News

  3. I love it! I also love to hear that you still get excited about being on TV! Seriously, around my house you are like a rock star. I started Signing Time with my son Zachery when he was about 2. My friends all thought that it was just me trying to teach my kid a “fancy baby trick”! Now my daughter (Cassidy 20 months) does it too and since she was exposed to it earlier seems to REALLY sponge it up. I want my children to know that we are all different and special and give them tools to appreciate that. THANK YOU for Signing Time! :o)

  4. Gisele Phenix: Trilingual is the future of toddlerhood, I mean why not? I am glad you found us!

    kcsander: You are so welcome! Isn’t it incredible how much they can share about their world and at such a young age?

    Around my house I am not like a rock star 😉 I am very much like a mom. Maybe YOUR family could have a little chat with MINE.

  5. See what an amazing person you are?!!! You are changing the world on signer at a time 🙂 I’ve got to tell you a story of the doctor’s office last week. So I take Brook into get her weighed and her nurse, Jody, is amazed at how well Brook signs (Thank You Rachel) So of corse I dig through my purse and give her one of my ST concert tickets w/ ST websight on it. She has a little girl ,1yr old, who she is teaching sign from a book. NO, no, no I say, not a book, learn from Rachel. I procede to tell her how cool you are and how your just like us, a momma, and how much Brook adores you. I just happen to be wearing my Buddy Walk shirt you signed and so I show her. OMG, she grabbed Brooker and proceded to go to the nurses station and tell all the girls that Brook has met Rachel from ST. Brook was a celebrity 🙂 Warmed my heart 🙂 My point, you touch so many lives Rachel!!! You are my Hero and I love you!!!! {{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}
    Jennifer and Brook

  6. Hi Rachel,

    My name is Rachael Hagge. I have two little ones, Bethany (19 months) and Kiegan (3 months).

    I don’t know how else to contact you so I thought to leave you a personal comment.

    First, thank you for inspiring millions. When I was in high school, I started learning of sign and decided I wanted to try to teach my children. Well, I’ve attempted. Using signing time has accelerated our communication with Bethany. A couple months ago I learned I could check them out at our public library. WOW! I love watching them and so does my daughter. Bethany is such a sponge. We’ve now been watching signing time for 6 weeks and we’re addicted.

    Second, thank you for your blog and links that allow me to further reseach signing. Again, we love love love what you have done. You’re so inspiring. We tell all our friends, seriously!

    I don’t know if this is possible, I feel silly for asking, but I’ll try. I’ve been looking everywhere for signing time for Christmas, and I’ve found it. However, I’m sad because we just can’t afford them, especially since I would at least like one complete series. I know I haven’t brought any national attention to signing time, but is there any way we could work something out with you? I know this is asking a lot!

    Please forgive me if I ask too much. You can reply to me at, but only if you’d like. If you don’t, I’ll understand. Thank you for trying to understand.



  7. Rachel,
    Please, please, please put me in contact with the Barrett family! My son is older, 28 months, but has similar skills. I am an interpreter (I graduated an ITP before Walter was born), and knew the impact Signing Time could have. As soon as I saw Signing Time in Deseret book over 5 years ago I bought it, eventhough I knew we were years away from being ready to start trying to get pregnant. I lent the DVD to my sister-in-law for her baby, and she loved it! But my sister-in-law let the signs fade out as my niece started talking.
    So when my son came along I was all about Signing Time. I bought every DVD as soon as they came out. I used to let him watch Practice Time ABC’s when he was falling asleep.
    At this point, he knows the alphabet, he counts to 20, he sings well, he reads a lot of words (I don’t know how many), and he sounds out words he doesn’t know. I found this last part to be true when I heard him in his room reading the letters to his Aveeno lotion bottle. He was trying to sound it out and ended up guessing arrow–I didn’t know he even knew the word arrow! Later I told him it was Aveeno and hes remembered it and found it on his shampoo bottle!
    I would like to speak to another parent who understands about any shared experiences. Walter has been working with a Speech Pathologist because he is behind in some areas. At 24 months his spontaneous communication was at a 12-month-old level and his letter/reading skills were at age 5. Hes come along way in the last 5 months, but I still have concerns about him being different, just as Katy says she worries.
    Walter still loves signing time, and says, “Its Rachel!” when you come on the screen. He watches, signs, sings, dances and plays along with Signing Time!
    Thanks, Heather Kindt

  8. Googsmom: I agree it is tough to learn a 3-D language from a book. Thank you for continuing to tell people about Signing Time. (Hi Brook!!)

    rhagge: Wow! You’ve only been a fan for 6 weeks! You are going to have some fun with us. I think you will be amazed and inspired at how many of our fans figure out ways to get all the DVD’s in their own home. Some have asked relatives to give ST! for every single holiday, others have been able to secure grants, I have even heard of bake sales. And there is always buying them one at a time 😉

    heather.kindt: Heather, I will forward your info to them. When we filmed Baby Signing Time 3 & 4 a number of parents reported this same reading phenomenon with their children ages 2 and under… WOW!

  9. “They RARELY do it on cue”

    My daughter will only sign on cue and not to communicate!!!
    Now my challenge is to get my daughter to sign to communicate-
    She does like to show off the signs she knows- but has not put it together to sign if she is hungry for example.
    She is a non verbal 2 year old (lost words she had around 15 months)

  10. I just wanted to say “Thank You,” for making “Baby Signing Time” and “Signing Time.” I just had a baby in July of 2008 who was diagnosed after birth with Down syndrome.I had heard of “Signing Time” before because I Home School .When I found out my baby girl had Down syndrome I knew right away I would be ordering your dvd’s.It’s so wonderful to know that she will always be able to communicate with me no matter what her level of speech ability may be.I have been very surprised at how fast my 3,5,7,and 9 yr. old children have picked up the signs!


  11. Rachel,

    Thank you so much for the signing time videos. I always wanted my daughter to learn sign language but I couldn’t find any good one (other than the einstein one that has few signs) until I heard about signing times through
    My daughter learned the signs so fast. She knows almost all the signs. Not only that, she can read them as well. Many were impressed. She started reading at 15 months and through your videos she picked up even more words. I speak with her in French and my husband speaks to her in English and she had learned so many words through signing times,it helped her speak more and I am very grateful to you for that.
    I was wondering if you can get me in touch by email with anyone who is also speaking multiple languages with their child and is signing as well. Is that possible? I think Gisele????
    Thank you so much.

  12. We have a friend who’s son is profoundly deaf. So much so that he is not even a candidate at this time for a cochlear implant.
    We decided that we needed to learn sign and teach it to our one year old. Our friend gave us the first Baby Signing Time video when our son was born. It is great and we learned sign really fast because of the music and the visuals.
    For his birthday recently she gave him the second Baby Signing time video. It’s also, so very catchy, and easy to learn the signs. These are the only videos my son will watch in entirety.
    Thank you so much for all you great work. Now I and my husband can talk to our little friend and our son will be able to as well, soon!

  13. Hi Racheal, Me and my son both loved watching signing time when he was like 18 months up to about 28 months when they took it off the programming in Midland, Texas. If you could please call and urge them to please put it back on I would appreciate it we sure do miss it. And since we don’t have any dvd’s we haven’t learned any more signs from signing times but we do have a book called “Talk to the Deaf” by Lottie Riekehof that was lent to us before they took signing time of their programming on our PBS station. Some of the signs ikn there seem different than what we learned on signing time but some are similar but some are really different. It is confusing to learn it 2 different ways we can’t afford the dvd’s and our library does have some vidios but not of signing times but it is of the American Sign language. I have tried to find someone how could teach us but I can’t find anyone in Midland, Texas. I do know of one family who is deaf a friend of mine from hs/college and his parents were deaf so he knows sign language but I am not sure they still live here or not and have lost contact with him since college. But I will try to contact them but not sure they can teach at my son’s level and interest like signing time does. There should be more emphasis on sign language in school as a part of the elementary learning since it is so much easier to learn at that age then it is when you get older. Well, I will go for now. Thanks again Rachel, Alex. Leah and Lucy and of course Hopkins too.

  14. I just want to let everyone know that signing time is awsome. I really enjoy signing with my student on Friday. He has improve so much with Signing time. Its amazing to see Elizabeth Signing and reading so good.

  15. Just wanted to let you know what an inspiration your videos have been to my family. I have a 19 month old daughter (Madison) that was born completely deaf. She received a Cochlear implant at 13 months but her main form of communication is and will be sign. She also has some hand deformities that she’ll have to have surgery on as she gets older. We have been watching Signing Time since she was about 6 months old (thanks to her Speech therapist) and in the last few months she has picked up so much and actually does most of the signs. She absolutely loves watching the videos and doing the signs with you. When she gets upset about something we’ll ask her if she wants to wath Rachel (in sign of course)and she always calms down and gets so excited and shakes her head yes. Because of her hands we were concerned about her being able to learn signs but she has been truly remarkable. She does most of the baby signs and a lot of others. My husband and I are taking formal ASL classes and I have to tell you I have learned a lot myself from your videos. Thanks so much for all you do and please know you have made a positive impact on our little family. Also, Madison’s daycare has decided to have a sign class (baby signs) so that Madison will have friends to communicate with and they are using some of your materials. What a blessing this is! Again, thanks so much. Your efforts have made a huge impact on many people.

  16. Pingback: Learn Sign Language » NBC Today Show highlights signing star Elizabeth Barrett

  17. My daughter loved signing time! It was one of the only shows that she would watch! She also started reading early! We discovered she knew how to read all her colors right after stet turned two. She may have been sight reading before then , we don’t know! But I firmly believe Signing Tine and signing was a major contributor to her being able to sightread this young. She just turned 5 a few months ago and is an incredible reader! Thank you, Signing Time!

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