Honoring Leah Coleman

Today, a family who has a deaf child contacted me through Facebook to ask my opinion on cochlear implants and American Sign Language. This is a weekly, if not daily, occurrence and I LOVE it when parents reach out to me.

I first refer them to my blog post “Cochlear Implants: My Two Cents

and THEN, I point them to this video, where I share how SO  MUCH can change because of “One Deaf Child.” But, before you click… I invite you to read on.

TODAY, December 8, 2015 is Leah Jane Coleman’s 19th Birthday.

Leah lives in Rochester, NY where she is attending her first year of college. She received two scholarships and was awarded her high school’s Sterling Scholar Award in Theater.

Yes, I am proud to be her mother, but not just for the reasons you might assume. While you’ve likely watched Leah grow up in your very own living room, and she’s very likely shared American Sign Language with you and yours… my proudest moment happened as she and I drove to her college campus for the very first time.

We arrived in Rochester after a red-eye flight from Salt Lake City, Utah where we had just wrapped the filming Signing Time Sentences hours earlier.


We are tired. We rent a car and start toward a day of sorting out dorms, roommates, classes and the like.

We turn right and for the first time we face campus, (ahem) now “home.” Leah looking at the red, brick buildings ahead of us says,

“Mom. You know how some people believe in fate?   …I make my own fate.”

I love you Leah Coleman. I cannot wait to see what you choose to do with this incredible, beautiful, brilliant life that you live. You SHINE.

You have already made a profound difference in the lives of countless families. You’ve helped countless “Alex’s” communicate with their “Leah’s.” You’ve helped eliminate so much fear that the “Rachel’s” and “Aaron’s” have had as they enter this new world of deafness.

  • Make A Difference (You can check that one off your list…)

or you can keep doing that. It’s entirely up to you.

You make your own fate.

Love, Mom aka The Signing Time Lady



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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. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. www.deafchildren.org Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 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: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at www.mydeafchild.org. For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on www.SignItASL.com. Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. 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.

9 thoughts on “Honoring Leah Coleman

  1. I love this post by my daughter Rachel Coleman, and I love the way she and Leah’s dad, Aaron Coleman, have parented Leah from day one. I remember telling them, during those “dark days” of not knowing where to turn, that “the only thing Leah can’t do is hear….” Later on we all realized that Leah is perfect the way she is and perfect the way she isn’t. That goes for everyone, you know. Leah’s parents gave her a the gift of Signing and the gift of Hearing (when she is wearing her cochlear implant.) Leah reminds me that when the implant is off, she is Deaf. She is prepared to learn, achieve, and be a support to others, in any of life’s arenas. Go Leah! Happy Birthday to the sweetest Leah in the world. You have led the way and accomplished so much good already in 19 years….and knowing you, Leah, you’re not planning on stopping! Create your Fate! I like how that sounds. Lots of LOVE always and forever, Grandma Linda

  2. ThIs is special. I’d seen that video in the past, but I’m always interested in an update on you all. All three of my kids have iced learning to sign by watching signing time (and they have all been early, excellent talkers, despite the warnings I got about not speaking because we signed).
    As an aside, I hadn’t heard of Laura, only Leah and Lucy.

  3. Nine years ago today I found out I was pregnant with my second child. We were huge Signing Time fans and signed constantly with our then 2-year-old son. When discussing baby names, there was only one girl’s name we ever considered. Our Leah was born in August 2007. Happy Birthday to your Leah!

  4. I am so glad that you and Aaron decided to share your wonderful family with us. You have all made a difference for so many people, and I’m excited for Leah as she continues on her own journey.
    I find it very easy to believe that she will continue making a difference in her own ways.

    Happy birthday Leah! Thank you for sharing so much of your childhood with us, and thank you for coming back to us again through Sentences and Christmas. Keep doing amazing things!

  5. Oh my goodness, I felt like I was reading the story of my daughter. She was eight when she decided to get an implant. We too were told to stop signing. Rebekah could already speak and write in English. She is and will always be deaf. She is now a high school ASL teacher. We would not change who she is. Her implant is a tool much like glasses are a tool. Thank you for sharing the story of Leah.

  6. Congratulations on raising a beautiful family and doing so much for all of our families. I have a 5 year old non-verbal ASD child who loves your videos. He is more into the baby signing because of the songs but today we did the alphabet with Leah and Alex, and he has been learning signs for the subway trains and was so excited to to the letters he knew along with everyone. Your series are one of the few videos that can hold his attention and he will mimic. So thank you. I purchase the digital videos on our TV/Roku via from Amazon, if you don’t make money, please let me know and I will purchase them another route.

  7. Thank you for “Signing Time”!
    From a very young age, I have always wanted to learn ASL, but never got the opportunity. Now that I have 2 little girls of my own – both are hearing, I want them to grow up with a second language – specifically ASL. We’ve been doing this now for about a year and they are both using signs daily in everything that they do.
    >> In my family, I – their mother – am the disabled person. I have epilepsy and cerebral palsy, among other issues. I was told I would never have children, but the Lord has blessed me with these two girls in spite of the odds the DRs gave.
    I grew up not knowing what was wrong with me when it came to the muscle spasms, walking difficulties & pain I felt. I was 21 years old before it was re-discovered /realized by my parents that I had Cerebral Palsy since I was born.
    >> I’ve had moments throughout my life where I wished I had known ASL because talking was a difficulty for one reason or another

    Thank you for creating the fun, family friendly show “Signing Time” !!! God Bless your family.

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