Camila Villafañe

By Camila Villafañe

LifeBuzz Staff

Neighborhood Learns Sign Language To Chat With 2-Year-Old Deaf Girl.

Children learn language from listening to parents, friends, and neighbors talk. But deaf children have a tougher time learning how to communicate than kids who can hear because they have to learn sign language and how to read lips. If anyone knows this, it’s two-year-old Samantha Savitz. She’s a social butterfly. Just ask her parents, Raphael and Glenda Savitz. But thankfully, she doesn’t have to look far for people to chat with.

A week after their daughter, Samantha, was born, Raphael and Glenda Savitz found out that she was deaf.

The new parents were faced with the prospect of raising a little girl with a disability. Glenda told the Boston Globe, “She was the first deaf person my husband and I had known. So it’s a surprise. Unexpected, but I think I’m someone who’s like: OK. What do we do? She’s a week old. We’re going to be learning sign language. There was no question that was going to be important to her development and her growth.’’

A week after their daughter, Samantha, was born, Raphael and Glenda Savitz found out that she was deaf.

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The family had moved to Newton, Massachusetts where they were welcomed with baked goods and smiles from friendly neighbors.

The neighbors loved little Samantha, but over time, they started to notice the couple taking Samantha on walks and speaking to the toddler using sign language. Some of the neighbors felt sad that they couldn't communicate with Samantha. It was obvious that the little girl wanted to chat with them, but they didn't know how to communicate with her. "She's super engaging. She wants to chat-up with anybody." Raphael said. Her mother, Glenda added, "Yea, her whole personality changes when it's someone who can communicate with her."

The family had moved to Newton, Massachusetts where they were welcomed with baked goods and smiles from friendly neighbors.

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The neighbors decided to put their heads together and figure a way to be able to communicate with the young child.

They decided they would all learn sign language. Learning a second language is a huge challenge, but they were all onboard with the awesome idea. Eighteen neighbors hired a sign language teacher, Rhys McGovern. McGovern is a deaf speech-language pathologist who spent months teaching the neighbors how to speak in utter silence. Over time, he showed them the wonders of sign language, but it wasn’t exactly easy.

The neighbors decided to put their heads together and figure a way to be able to communicate with the young child.

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The neighbors kept what they were doing to themselves as they continued to learn sign language.

Everyone did their best to learn quickly and efficiently so they could communicate with Samantha when the time was right. It was very inspiring and some might say heroic. If anyone was touched by all their hard work, it was Glenda and Raphael Savitz when the neighbors revealed what they’d learned.

The neighbors kept what they were doing to themselves as they continued to learn sign language.

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The Savitz family was speechless when the whole neighborhood arrived to show off their new skills.

One day, they greeted the family with sign language, and Glenda and Raphael were overwhelmed by what they had witnessed. They couldn’t believe their neighbors had done something so special like learn sign language. Now, the Savitzs understand what the power of a community could do, and they had Samantha to thank for that. The little girl with a hearing impairment brought everyone even closer together to learn a fun new way to communicate.

The Savitz family was speechless when the whole neighborhood arrived to show off their new skills.

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