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S-A-N-T-A: Adorable girl signs kindergarten holiday concert for deaf parents

Dec. 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM ET

A "fake" sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial prompted one deaf mom to show the world how it's really done.

Lori Putney Koch of Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday tweeted that her 5-year-old daughter, Claire, did a better job signing for her deaf parents at a kindergarten holiday concert at Plumb Elementary School.


In the too-cute video posted on YouTube, Claire (in the middle, with the blonde hair) can be seen singing along with her classmates while signing in American Sign Language. Her animated facial expressions are just Claire being herself, her mom told TODAY Moms: "She is full of personality and spunk, that's the Claire we know."

The video also caught the eye of actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf.


Both Koch, who works as a business analyst at ZVRS, a video relay service company for the deaf and hard of hearing, and her husband, Tom, who runs his own SCUBA business, were born deaf. Claire and her sister, 2-year-old Charlotte, can hear, Koch said, but have been exposed to American Sign Language since birth. "It is our first language in our household," she told TODAY via email.

"Claire used sign language in the play because she was considerate of us and wanted us to understand the lyrics to the song," Koch said. "She was signing to her parents, looking right into my iPhone as she knew I was recording her. We don't use our daughter as an interpreter, but if there is something we missed, she would likely relay it to us."

Koch said there's a community of KODA, Kids of Deaf Adults (or CODA, Children of Deaf Adults), who are enthusiastically applauding Claire's lively performance.

Meanwhile, the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral has told a Johannesburg newspaper that he was experiencing a schizophrenic episode during the funeral. His gibberish sign language outraged deaf people around the world. 

"It was very saddening to see the deaf community being robbed of their communication access for something as worldly as Nelson Mandela's funeral," Koch said. "He was an important and prominent figure to the entire world, including the deaf, especially since we can relate to oppression. Many of my deaf friends posted tributes on their social media outlets and to be cheated with a fake interpreter was a slap in our faces." 

Follow Joy Jernigan on Twitter @JoyJernigan.

Video: In an adorable video posted to YouTube, one young girl is shown signing the songs at her school holiday concert so that her deaf parents could follow along.



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