Why I Created Sign Language for Emergency Situations- ASL, English and Spanish

It has been about five weeks since the first run of my newest video- Sign Language for Emergency Situations -ASL, English and Spanish appeared at my front door.  I carefully opened the huge boxes and looked at the “zillion” copies that were all over my living room floor.  How funny, that this little DVD carried so much history with it… none which is reflected on the DVD itself or its’ cover.

You see, I first decided to create this DVD on a date that will be easy to remember- Sepember 11, 2001.  It was a date in which many families, including mine, were intimately impacted by the days’ events.  I had a brother and a cousin within sneezing distance of the World Trade Center that day.  I had other relatives and numerous friends who all had Manhattan addresses. I also knew that many deaf individuals resided in NYC and wondered how terrified were they on that fateful and tragic day when communication was minimum at best and fear was at an all time high.

That is the day I decided that I wanted to be part of the communication solution for those in the deaf community.  I know that my brother benefited from the use of a being able to ask questions of others that day as he walked the streets looking for a way to get home.  He was able to assist others with the information he received and be a benefactor of the generosity of total strangers.  He also can hear.

But, what about the people who were not able to communicate during all the flurry of madness.  Pencil and paper was not practical when there was so much happening and the need for safety was tantamount.  If only the emergency response workers knew simple signs such as –  EVACUATE, GO INDOORS,  ARE YOU HURT?,  WHO IS MISSING?,  WHAT IS YOUR NAME? EXPLOSION! DO YOU NEED HELP?

It took me  a long time to wrap my head around the events of 9/11.  But, then it came to me-  I need to develop a DVD to help people who speak two of the four most common languages in the United States get assistance during natural disasters, medical crisis or on a day that is unthinkable ! (Sorry I don’t speak Chinese, the third most common language).  So, with help from my friends, especially Karina Prizont Cowan, I developed Sign Language for Emergency Situations with ASL  and narration in   Spanish and English.  The entire DVD is signed and open captioned – for all to have access.   I queried people who were first responders, students and deaf friends to preview the DVD keeping in mind that the audience would be hearing.  Modifications were made to the video (yep it was a lot longer!).  We also decided to add the Sign Language for Emergency Situations mini-chart that accompanies the DVD as an enclosure.  The last piece was two super endorsements- Alison Rhodes the Safety Mom and Mackenzie Kelly of NORCAL Ambulance.

Then I began to think how can I get my product to people who could it could benefit most.  Twitter, Facebook, friends and good old word of mouth were very effective.  Harris Communications- a large distributor of products for the deaf and hearing community who wish to learn ASL, etc.  hopped on board immediately.   I was so happy to receive many words of encouragement.  Hilary Bilbrey took my DVD to a safety conference and was so kind to give me feedback from the very people who I wanted to reach- emergency personnel!  Dozens of phone calls later I had talked to people from all over the country who wanted to know how to access the product, workshops and more.

Then the most interesting thing happened…. we sold out.  The emergency cards (which we ordered separately and as an enclosure to the DVD) sold out!  Then the DVD started to fly out the door- we have a few of those boxes left- but not too many.

So, on behalf of all those who helped make the tragedy of 9/11 to have a positive outcome via my little company, Signing Families ™-  I thank you.  And, to show that this is just not a business opportunity,  my company will continue to donate a portion of all proceeds to charitable organizations that help children and their families.

Also, note that great things happen when friends help friends-  Alison Rhodes, Hilary Bilbrey and myself will be joining together to be a “safety package”.  We want to help children, families, educators and organizations by providing services,  products and workshops.  If you are interested in learning more please contact me at Info@SigningFamilies.com

To contact Alison Rhodes about her SafetyMom.com consultations please go to http://www.SafetyMom.com

Hilary Bilbrey and her Brecker Bunny Series can be found at http://www.InspiredbyFamily.com

Here is the trailer to the video that is now available:

4 thoughts on “Why I Created Sign Language for Emergency Situations- ASL, English and Spanish

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