Rachel in the New York Daily News!

Rachel Coleman was featured in a New York Daily News article last week. The article is ‘Sign language singer nabs Emmy nom,’ written by Rosemary Black. I have also pasted the article below. Hope you enjoy!

Sign language singer nabs Emmy nom

Thursday, May 8th 2008, 4:00 AM

Rachel Coleman founded

Rachel Coleman founded “Signing Time” after learning her daughter was deaf.

Just one month after Leah Coleman’s birth in 1996, the hospital where she’d been born began mandatory newborn hearing screenings. It was too late for Leah, who spent the first 14 months of her life in a soundless world. Then her parents, Rachel and Aaron, learned that she was profoundly deaf – and Rachel reacted by putting down her guitar and forsaking the folk rock band she loved so much. Desperate to communicate with her daughter but having no knowledge of sign language as she had never known anyone who was deaf, she learned American sign language and taught it to Leah.

A decade later, through her “Signing Time” music CDs, DVDs and on PBS stations around the country, she’s teaching sign language to millions of children, many with normal hearing. Last week, Rachel, host of “Signing Time” and the creator of all its original songs, was nominated for an Emmy Award.

“I didn’t believe it,” Coleman says. “I asked someone to call and double-check that it was really for me.”

The 35th annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy awards – her nomination is for “Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series” — will be broadcast live on June 20 from Hollywood.

Rachel’s triumphant trip to Tinseltown was a long time coming, and marked in spots by plenty of heartbreak – and plenty of exhilaration and gratitude, too.

Though she and Aaron worked tirelessly to broaden Leah’s world by teaching her sign language, it wasn’t until four years after Leah’s birth that “Signing Time” became a reality. The family had moved to Los Angeles to be close to Rachel’s sister, Emilie, mother of a toddler named Alex. Leah and Alex both knew sign language, and they were best friends. On the soccer field, Alex would sign what Leah needed. Rachel Coleman felt that it was essential for even non-hearing impaired kids to know sign language, and she volunteered to teach a story hour with sign language at a local LA preschool once a month.

Before long, the opportunity to make a video to teach kids sign language came along, and Rachel composed a variety of appealing songs for it. Her sister Emilie helped out, and Emilie’s son Alex and Leah starred in the show. It soon became a family affair, with Rachel’s father, himself a composer, volunteering to score it for free. More shows followed, and the Signing Time products began to sell briskly on amazon.com. The songs are lively and fun, the topics range from eating to manners to playing outside, and kids under age four are quickly spellbound by them. (My three year old, who was adopted from China at 21 months and who has a repaired cleft lip and palate and thus is speech delayed, is entranced by them.)

A few years after “Signing Time” was catching on across the nation, Rachel Coleman got pregnant, and discovered eight weeks before she was due that the baby had spina bifida. Fetal surgery to repair the defect gave the couple hope that all would be okay with their baby, but Lucy was born two months early, with cerebral palsy.

The doctors told the Colemans that she was profoundly retarded and that she would never speak. They continued to work on “Signing Time,” and as they were finishing up one DVD and watching the edits, Lucy signed “More.”

“It was amazing that her first communication was in her sister’s language,” Coleman recalls. “Her next sign was ‘water,’ and though it wasn’t perfect, we knew what she wanted.”

Lucy is now nearly eight, mainstreamed in the second grade, and loves to sing. “She is a brilliant little girl,” Coleman says. “If we had believed that doctor and not signed with her, she would have been locked in that body and not communicating. Now, she speaks beautifully.”

Leah, meanwhile, is at the top of her fifth grade class (she skipped a grade), won a spelling bee last year, and has read all the Harry Potter books. The family moved from Los Angeles back to Salt Lake City, where their extended family lives.

Teaching her two daughters to sign “showed me that sign language isn’t just for hearing impaired kids, it is for all kids. It’s a way for a child to say, I actually am in here and I can figure things out,” Coleman says.

Last year, the two sisters (with the help of their dad, who is Signing Time’s CEO and Rachel’s husband, who is the cameraman) made 12 Signing Time DVDs and are working on two more. They partner with PBS stations around the country to air “Signing Time,” and they also have books and flashcards. Several “Baby Signing Time” DVDs are also available. Rachel is excited about her Emmy nomination, but whether she gets the award or not, she feels like a winner already.

“First, I really am a mom of two incredible girls,” she says. “When I am performing, it is just as though I am talking to my kids. I love it. A lot of moms in my situation might not even be able to get out of bed in the morning, but I am making a huge impact on how families communicate.”

5 thoughts on “Rachel in the New York Daily News!”

  1. I just wanted to say I think you are amazing and you inspire me. I hope that I’m able to be a great mom like you and help bring out the best in my kids. My daughter Shelby 18 months loves Signing time she actually calls it Leah time. It’s funny! She wants to watch it morning noon and night. I’m pregnant with my second baby and I hope that they love it as much as Shelby. Keep up the good work…you all are amazing and I really love to watch my daughter try to do every sign she really thinks about it and tries them all.

  2. Dear Rachel,

    Warm congratulations on your Emmy nomination! You are very deserving, as your efforts have truly impacted so many children and families. My seven children have all learned some sign language, with my two year old being the master so far. Even my eighteen year old is aware of some signs, just by hanging around when her baby sister is watching the Signing Time videos. The favorite of the month is the farm video, which our little one refers to as ‘ Alex and yee-ahh farm.’
    Even without an award, you are definitely a winner in our book. God bless you and your family always,

    Ellen, in New Hampshire

  3. My three year old son started watching Signing Time on PBS in January. I am amazed at how much he has learned. His teacher told me today that he knows more signs than she does. Oddly enough, this is a child diagnosed with moderately severe autism a year and a half ago. I never thought I would know what he was thinking about. Now he tells me about the sky, the trees and the birds when we go outside. You deserve every award there is out there Rachel. Thanks, Nicole in Michigan

  4. Thank you so much for Signing Time! My children (4 and 1 1/2) use signs as a bridge between 2 languages. We are raising them bi-lingually in English and German (I’m from the US and live in Austria) and I’ve signed with them from birth. Just today, my 18-month-old said something that sounded like “danke”. I wasn’t sure I had understood her correctly (up until today, all her words have been in English) so I asked her, “Samantha, did you just day danke?” Imagine my amazement when she looked at me, nodded yes, and signed “Thank you”! I know I have always spoken English when signing Thank you. Not only does she understand the sign and its meaning, but she associates the sign with both words. Sign language is clearly reinforcing her understanding of there being two words for one meaning! How exciting it is to know that, at 18 months, she is truely bilingual, absorbing both her Father’s language and my language (and ASL!) equally well.
    Signing Time is a wonderful teaching/parenting tool and the music is fantastic! We wouldn’t have stuck with signing without you. You deserve that nomination and I’ll be rooting for you for the award, you sure deserve it. Thank you, Lisa in Vienna

  5. Rachel, I have a 26 month old son who I have been teaching sign language since I found Signing Times wished I would have found it sooner on PBS but because of the experts saying babies shouldn’t watch tv until after they are 2 and then it needs to be limited i just ignored the tv for a long time then at about 18 months I figured he could watch some educational programs like sesame street and such as is on PBS. And it took him a little while but he finally started using the signs around 20 months. I wished I would have found it when he was born but I am thankful that I did find it and they are running the programs everyday now on singing times the PBS program and we just love it and are having so much fun learning it all. I sure wished they would run all of the programs including baby singing times on there. We watch it all the time although he hasn’t picked up all of the signs we are working on it. More was his first sign I think and I would love to tell you all of the signs he knows but I think I would run out of room I think it helped him to start speaking as well becasue he wasn’t talking at all for a very long time now he talks all the time he still says things we don’t understand but that’s ok. Yes, you do deserve that award although I didn’t know about it until now. You are so inspirational to me and my son loves signing times he loves the hopping time section of your programs. Ginger and Nathaniel of West Texas

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