Rachel de Azevedo Coleman

Two Little Hands Productions

Rachel Coleman is one in a million, statistically speaking of course. One in one thousand children are born profoundly deaf and one in one thousand children are born with spina bifida. In 1996 Rachel’s daughter Leah was born profoundly deaf and four years later, her daughter Lucy was born with spina bifida. Inspired by her children’s needs and challenges, Rachel has been instrumental in putting sign language into the hands of infants and toddlers, both hearing and deaf. Rachel and her sister, Emilie Brown, founded Two Little Hands Productions, and created the DVD series and television show “Signing Time” which introduces American Sign Language and English vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. The Coleman Family was featured on NBC’s Today Show, and their story has been told in many publications such as Ladies Home Journal, Working Mother Magazine, and Inc. Magazine. Signing Time music videos are currently airing on the cable station Nick Jr. The 26 episode “Signing Time” series aired on public television from 2005-2008 and has received numerous awards. In 2008, Rachel received an Emmy nomination for her role in Signing Time. Rachel is a mentor, advocate and role model for countless families across the country who are raising children with disabilities. Above all recognition, Rachel is thrilled that the Signing Time DVDs are often one of the first resources families seek out when they discover their child has a hearing loss

'One Deaf Child'

Parents of newly diagnosed deaf children are hit with sobering statistics regarding their child’s education and future. Conflicting opinions on the best methods of communicating with deaf children and educating a deaf child often leave parents feeling overwhelmed and helpless in a sea of information and options. When Leah Coleman was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at 14 months of age, her parents, Rachel and Aaron, who had no previous experience with hearing loss, asked what they could expect for their child’s future. The response was, “You can expect her to graduate from high school with a third grade reading level.” The Coleman’s looked at their child and wondered how Leah’s inability to hear was being confused with her ability to learn. They looked at the state worker and wondered how she could so calmly admit that the current system had not only failed countless deaf children in the past, but was going to continue to do just that. Rachel Coleman shares her family’s journey, their struggles and ultimately their triumph. The triumph is not Leah’s alone, through Coleman’s creation of the Signing Time DVD and television series, children across the country—both hearing and deaf—are communicating through sign language, and signing with babies for pre-verbal communication has become a mainstream occurrence. Armed with little more than the belief in the potential of one deaf child, the Coleman’s did everything right, by doing everything “wrong” and in the process revolutionized parenting by validating the pre-verbal and non-verbal child’s ability to express themselves through their hands.

Plenary #3: "One Deaf Child"
Cassatt Ballroom
Tuesday March 2, 2010
8:45 AM - 9:45 AM