RIDBC students teach Santa to sign!

RIDBC Thomas Pattison School students, Gillian and Tracey, teaching Santa’s helpers the Auslan for ‘Merry Christmas’

Santa recently contacted students from Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Thomas Pattison School to see if they could teach two of his helpers some Australian Sign Language (Auslan)!

Two of Santa’s helpers, who will be joining Westfield North Rocks’ Christmas team, joined the lesson to learn important festive signs, such as ‘Merry Christmas’.

“When we approached our high school students with the idea of supporting two of Santa’s helpers to learn some Auslan, they thought it was a great idea,” said RIDBC Thomas Pattison School Principal, Kim McArtney.

“The students kept the lesson simple to help the two to remember the signs. For example, they decided to teach the sign for ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ rather than ‘how are you’ because waving hello or goodbye is a gesture that hearing people are familiar with.”

RIDBC Thomas Pattison School caters for students from Kindergarten to Year 10 who are profoundly deaf. The school offers a bilingual program where students learn English and Australian Sign Language (Auslan). 

“It is very important for our students to see Auslan used by people in the community as it helps our students to feel valued. Seeing their language in a variety of settings supports their cultural identity,” said Kim.  

“We are so thankful for the support Westfield North Rocks gives to RIDBC, and the initiative they show on activities such as this. This is only one of the many ways Westfield gives back to RIDBC - we consider ourselves very lucky to have such a supportive organisation that is so invested in making our local community inclusive.”   

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and diagnostic services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise more than $2.5 million every month.