Category: Sign Language for Emergency Situations

How a Mother of an Autistic Child Started My Entrepreneurial Journey – Signing Families

“Welcome to Signing Families”.  I first wrote those words “officially” in 2006, the year that Signing Families became an educational / instructional company focused on teaching novice learners how to communicate with sign language.

Since then, hundreds of classes and sign language trainings have been conducted and thousands of DVDs and sign language communication charts have been sold or donated to people across the globe.  My goal is simple – to build communication bridges one sign at a time.

How did it all begin?  Well… one day while I was a School Psychologist working at an elementary school I was asked to attend a  special education IEP meeting with a parent who had a child with moderate – severe Autism.  Our school based team had just recommended that to help try to facilitate spoken speech or any communication,  she may want to consider taking sign language classes.  With tears in her eyes she looked at us and asked one simple question, ” Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance in his special education self-contained classroom due to his severe needs while I leave for hours to learn sign language?”

My heart stopped.  As a mom of two children, I knew exactly what she meant.  I had a child who was born with conditions that meant he needed specialized babysitting when he was a baby.   I could relate to the  challenges that this parent was facing. There was no way she would be able to leave her child with a “regular” babysitter.  She was a single parent. She had limited financial resources. She was frustrated.  But, most of all – she was upset because she couldn’t provide the one thing she yearned most for her child – an ability to learn to communicate.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning because I continued to hear her voice… “Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance..?”  The next day I decided I needed to help this mom.  It just wasn’t fair.  She was dealt a tough situation and we just made it worse.  That was unacceptable. So, after a while I created a temporary “fix”, I would make a sign language video with a few dozen basic words and put it on a basic DVD.

Word got out and before I knew I was in the DVD business – making dozens of copies for teachers, friends and even for relatives of people I didn’t know. The phone kept ringing. Email requests flooded my inbox.

That is when “Hubby” said… “I think you have something  here.”  So, we enlisted some talented people to help create the first DVD from Signing Families:  Baby, Toddler and Preschool Sign Language with Louise Masin Sattler and Friends.  The differentiator between my DVD and many others was that the audience was “language role models” and not kids. There were no dancing bears or signing birds.  Moreover,   I open captioned the DVD and added a Spanish – English – Sign Language component.  I did this because there was virtually very little sign language instruction available for parents of children with communication needs who were from Spanish speaking homes but living in the United States or Canada.

DVD sales started off slowly but then the momentum kicked in when Borders and Barnes and Noble started to order. Before long sales were in the hundreds, then thousands.  I then created ancillary components to the DVD.  A sign language chart to help with expressing  WANTS and FEELINGS.   This was followed by a website with  a plethora of free  learning opportunities.  And, a very full nationwide training schedule for special needs groups, schools, preschool programs, Head Start and much more.

In 2010 my second DVD series  and training program launched.  The Sign Language For Emergency Situations was born out of necessity.  Simply, we as a nation were not offering equal access communication opportunities  to those who were Deaf or had limitations with  functional needs. I have written about my journey in the field of emergency management on this blog before.  Please feel free to ask me about resources in the comment section below.

Related Reading: Why I Created Sign Language For Emergency Situations

Now it is 2019 and the world is a different place than 2006.  Instead of DVD sales we have ‘streaming”.  So, that means that I have to make a shift in the way I reach an audience.  I have uploaded many free YouTube videos  for people to either start learning sign language or continue honing their basic skills.

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I must confess, a year ago I nearly closed Signing Families.  I had lost my “WHY”.  I wasn’t selling huge lots of product or traveling as much for trainings. I was the “lost entrepreneur”.   But,  then I started to look over boxes of materials I saved.  Letters from families. Drawings from children.  Emails from teachers.  Commendations from First Responder groups.   I was humbled and knew that I couldn’t stop. I just needed to reinvent.  So, I started to teach ASL at a high school, I began to think of new ways to reach an audience yearning to learn to sign and clicked the keys of my laptop once more to inspire parents and teachers via media articles  not to give up.  At last, I remembered my WHY.

So… dear readers – thank You for allowing me to tell my story.  You are groovy, indeed!

xo,

Louise

Related reading: My interview with SLATE MAGAZINE and others

The Signing Families Mini-Emergency Communication Chart – For When Time Counts! (ASL- English – Spanish – Chinese)

 

SIGNING FAMILIES EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION MINI-CHART

This pocket-sized emergency communication chart has FOUR different languages represented. Photos for a dozen important informational signs are in sign language, English, Spanish and Chinese! There is a space for writing with a washable marker allows for efficient communication during challenging situations, such as medical emergencies or disasters. Also, numbers, common symbols (such as for email) and the alphabet is included. This card has a special coating for easy cleaning. This emergency mini – chart has been used by thousands of First Responders and Community Emergency Responder Teams (CERT). Also, valuable for those who work in schools, are involved with service related industries (such as bus drivers, flight attendants, etc.). Restauranteurs and hospitality workers are also using this chart to help customers who are in need of assistance. We offer this chart for those who reside in the United States. Price includes shipping within the USA. Don't want to order via PayPal or don't see a button to order? EMAIL US at the LINK BELOW! Bulk orders needed? EMAIL US! Shipping included, but note: we only ship within the United States. For outside the USA orders – please send an email. Thank you.

$1.49

 

NEED TO CONTACT LOUISE AS SIGNING FAMILIES ABOUT EMERGENCY PRODUCTS?

EMAIL HERE

 

 

mini chart chinese 2

NOT FOR DUPLICATION

 

To learn more about emergency sign language please go to SigningFamilies.com

 

 

 

 

Sign Language Video and Photography to Help First Responders (and others) Communicate During Emergencies, Including Evacuation Scenarios

As I type this blog I am watching CNN news reporting from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) about the terrorist threat that forced their schools to close today.  Luckily, students were not in session, thus avoiding a massive evacuation across an entire city.  But, what if students had been in the classrooms, including Deaf students who use sign language to communicate? Would our school staff and emergency responders been able to evacuate all safely?

Knowing a few words in sign language can save lives.

So, I am asking on behalf of those who are  Deaf or use sign as a preferred mode for communication if you would take a few moments to learn a few signs.

The video below is a quick intro to sign language terms used for evacuations. The video is not captioned as it was intended for hearing people who do not know sign language. Many of the same words are provided with captions in photos, below.   You are welcome to copy the photos in this blog below and share with others. Consider these photos FREE SHARE.

Additional emergency vocabulary photos are available on SigningFamilies.com and via videos on my youtube channel.

 

 

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‼️GIVING BACK TO OUR FIRST RESPONDERS

If you are a member of a  Fire Department, Police Department or Ambulance Corp. and wish a free Sign Language for Emergency Situations DVD with an emergency communication card (by Signing Families, 2010), please connect by sending an email to INFO >at< Signing Families <dot> com. Please  provide details of where you work. This offer is good until January 15, 2016 to the first 25 agencies that connect.  Only one per facility, please.

LASTLY…

Note: Remember that instructional materials and quick courses should not be considered a replacement for a qualified  sign language interpreter.

For additional information please go to http://www.SigningFamilies.com for resources and much more!

Be safe!

xo,

Louise

 

 

ASL Holiday Signs

On behalf of SIGNING FAMILIES we wish all a happy holiday season!

  Below you will find in our  slideshow  some common holiday words in American Sign Language (ASL)   For more information about sign language or to learn how to sign – please visit our website or our FACEBOOK  page where nearly 5000 people visit and share.   We also have many of our videos on YouTube for your enjoyment!

Have a safe, joyous, healthy and wonderful holiday season!

~Louise

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When the Earth Shakes and Spins! How to be prepared for Earthquakes and Tornadoes!

source: Wikipedia

source: Wikkipedia

If a hurricane hit your home today would have an evacuation plan? If you awoke in the middle of the night to the earth trembling and your home shaking violently- would you know what to do? Green skies are often the first warning of a tornado coming – where should you go?  Dangerous chemicals were let in to the air following a train derailment near your home – would you know what to do and where to get credible information for either evacuation or sheltering in place?

It has been my privilege to work with disaster specialists throughout the United States. They work tirelessly on all of our behalf.

Therefore, in the interest of public safety I will be posting as series of articles about how to PREPARE for potential disasters AND also offer resources for you to learn more.

To start I would like to discuss two very REAL threats to our personal and property safety-  earthquakes  and tornadoes.

EARTHQUAKE PREPARATION

 You may think that earthquakes are only on the west coast of the United States or in remote mountain regions of Asia.  But, that simply is false. Earthquakes happen in almost every state in the US and throughout the world, from the islands of Japan to the mountains of China.  In fact, earthquakes can occur anytime, anywhere. Just ask the people of Washington DC who experienced a good size earthquake of a magnitude of 5.8  in 2011 (The epicenter was in Virginia).

Click here to find your area and see if you are in a location of where more than one million registered earthquakes occurred this year. (Approximately 13,000 were a 4.0 magnitude or higher).  States with the most earthquakes? Alaska and California  have the most (no surprise) but you may not have thought of Utah as a top earthquake location?

So how can you prepare for an earthquake?

 What to do during an earthquake?  We use to think that standing in a doorway was the best idea. NOPE.  What about running outside? Not the “A” answer, either. According to the United States Geological Service (USGS) the best idea is to DROP, ROLL UNDER something STURDY and HOLD ON! (View demo video here)

This new safety information is so important that an effort known as the SHAKE OUT will be conducted this coming Fall.  What is SHAKE OUT? Simply it is a designated date and time where as many US and Canadian citizens participate in a  mock “earthquake drill”.  The SHAKE OUT drill will be on October 17th at 10:17 in the morning. (Interesting piece of trivia – October 17th is the anniversary date of the Oakland earthquake of 1989)  To register your family or business for the drill or learn more click here. 

Also relevant and related to earthquake safety is to learn about tsunamis. A tsunami is a wall of water that is created following an earthquake, meteor or other disruption to the ocean.  A devastating tsunami hit Japan in 2011 and resulted in mass casualty and loss of property.  (Read about recovery efforts here )

What to do if there is a tsunami?

 Many coastal areas in the United States now have tsunami warning systems.

However, the most important thing to know about a tsunami is to prepare in advance as where you can that is safe, elevated and within fifteen minutes of your home. This packet of information was very helpful to understand tsunamis and be prepared:  Tsunami Preparedness by NOAA

TORNADO PREPARATION

Tornadoes are a real and present threat to life and property.  Like an earthquake, tornadoes can strike anywhere at any time. We only need to read the headlines of recent events to see how a tornado touching down for a few minutes can cause profound heartbreak.  Moore, Oklahoma now joins the ranks of other towns, such as Joplin, Missouri, Granbury, Texas,  as a place where  giant tornadoes have  pummeled through communities, schools and farmland.

How to prepare for a tornado?

What are considered the “best practices” if you know that you are in an area experiencing a tornado watch or warning?  First, recognize the “signs” that a tornado is coming.

  • GREEN SKIES
  • DARKENING SKIES
  • HAIL
  • LOUD NOISE, described by some like a “freight train”
  • WARNING SIRENS or ALERTS RECEIVED

What should you do if you know a tornado is a true threat?

Take shelter immediately! Go to a basement, storm cellar, interior room or closet. Stay away from windows. Try to shield yourself from potential flying debris by having something over you. Be sure to have a cell phone (if possible), flashlight and battery operated radio with you.  Here is more information about planning and safety from the CDC

http://www.rvspca.org/health-behavior/disaster-preparedness

http://www.rvspca.org/health-behavior/disaster-preparedness

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR FAMILY PETS

Again, let planning be your friend. The Humane Society published these guidelines for pet owners.

You also can read more from the SPCA by clicking on the photo above or this link.

What if your family member has special considerations, such as uses a wheelchair, has Autism or lives with Alzheimer’s? 

There are many websites and videos (open and/or closed captioned for those with hearing loss) that can be of great assistance and a wealth of information . There are many sites to review, but these are some of my favorites.

RED CROSS 

READY.GOV

EMSC NATIONAL RESOURCE CENTER

DEAFInc.com

SAVE THE CHILDREN

LASTLY… 

What information can I share with my family that is “child friendly”

I really liked this website (in addition to the child resources from the sites mentioned above)

USGS KID INFO (including science fair project ideas)

In the next post we will discuss safety and preparation for Hurricane Season.   Please feel free to share YOUR disaster preparation safety information below. Thank you

 Stay safe everyone!

~Louise

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Louise Satter is a Psychologist who  created the SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS Series – ASL, ENGLISH and SPANISH.  Read more about how to connect with Louise for speaking engagements, including the DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS PROGRAM (including sign language) and other programs related to safety and the well-being of children and adults with exceptional needs.

CLICK HERE for more information.

DISASTER SAFETY INFORMATION FOR FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS – 2015 updated post with additional safety resources

Update: Sadly tornado “season” has been wicked during 2015, therefore I am re – blogging this post that originally posted in 2013. At the bottom of this post are additional safety resources including for earthquake, flood, hurricane, tsunami and wildfire preparedness.

I could not fathom what must have happened here to make a truck flip and be impaled on these trees.

Today there have been a series of tragic tornadoes that have ripped through the heartland of America causing severe devastation, including loss of life.  Some of the families impacted who have been impacted have family members with special needs.

In an effort to help families and communities who may have some unique challenges during disasters here is some information:

BEFORE A DISASTER

Be prepared.  Alert your local fire department if you have a family member with special needs of any kind, such as physical, sensory, cognitive or other.  Included would be family members with dementia, Alzheimer’s or medical problems.

Have a family plan for sheltering in place and evacuation.

Be sure to have an emergency kit in your home and car.  To know what should be in your emergency kit go to the RED CROSS Disaster Information page.   Don’t forget to add to your kit personal effects, such as your insurance information, copies of marriage and birth certificates and photos of your family members.

For families with children, especially with special needs, have a quick “grab and go” kit of favorite items and things you know will comfort your child during a time of distress.  Stuffed animals, battery operated video games, and books or drawing pads all are good things to bring along. So, be prepared in advance with this GRAB AND GO KIT.

Let others know your plans if you need to evacuate. Where you intend to go and how you will try to check in.

WHAT TO DO IF DISASTER STRIKES

Many agencies including FEMA and the RED CROSS offer much information, including for for families with special populations.

GENERAL ASSISTANCE, including Access and Functional Needs Information:

 RED CROSS disaster safety checklist in multiple languges

DISASTER ASSISTANCE by FEMA 

ASSISTANCE FOR THE AUTISM COMMUNITY:

Spirit of Autism

Autism Speaks

ASL / SIGN LANGUAGE RESOURCES FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS for the DEAF

SIGNING FAMILIES

DEAFinc VIDEOS  (including the one below)

Other Disaster Preparation Resources

Earthquake Country Alliance 

ShakeOut Earthquake Drill registration 

Hurricane Preparedness 

TsunamiZone

Ready.gov for many disaster preparedness resources, including Floods and Fires

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IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL RESOURCES PLEASE SHARE BELOW IN THE COMMENT SECTION

Autistic Children and Water Safety

photo by Louise Sattler

H20- Water.  A very common element in our world. Often to be admired from a sandy shore, used to quench a thirst or to bathe. However, for children with Autism- water represents a much different element. It is soothing. Calming. Therapeutic. Quiet. And, sometimes dangerous.

Children on the spectrum have for years been offered water therapy to help with sensory integration, enhance communication skills and improve socialization.  There is no doubt that water therapy is often essential with helping children with Autism and I have seen for myself the outstanding benefits.  Yet , because water is often familiar and a preferred environment for these children, it also can pose some significant concerns.

Note that it has been reported that over 90% of children with Autism wander which is why if a child is missing in your neighborhood or school- check local pools and other waterways- quickly!  Annually, children with Autism who have fled a scene due to curiosity or fear are sadly found on the bottom of pools. For some states, such as Florida, promotions for  water safety courses for children with special needs have been implemented. What a wonderful idea! BRAVO!

First Responders who attend my presentations often are surprised to learn how a child with Autism may flee. Many are unaware that during an emergency situation or even something as commonplace as a child pulling a fire alarm by accident,  that they need to be extra mindful  of keeping tabs on children with special needs.   Often EMS learn for the first time about the threat water  poses to children who  have heightened sensory awareness.  They often are unaware that Autistic children may use water/pools as a way to seek calm and quiet from the chaos that ensues during school evacuations or other emergencies.

I have found a several interesting references and articles.  Here are just a few:

SUN SENTINEL  

WATER AWARENESS  

PARENTING SQUAD

SPIRIT OF AUTISM

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To learn more about Louise’s presentations please connect via her website:  SIGNING FAMILIES

To sign up for the SIGNING FAMILIES NEWSLETTER CLICK HERE

Helping to Save the Lives of Children with Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month and I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce all of you to a new joint venture between Debi Taylor, Spirit of Autism, and myself.  Together we are trying to help educate and potentially save the lives of children with Autism.  For a number of years I have trained emergency medical personnel on how to interact and communicate with children with special needs, many who use sign language. Debi, is a paramedic and the mother of a son with Autism.  We are “Tweet pals” and have become fast friends and colleagues.  Our mission is to help EMS and others be able to assist children and adults with Autism during medical emergencies or disasters.

If you are interested in learning more about our programs please connect here via SIGNING FAMILIES:  INFO<at>SigningFamilies<dot>com

To be able to receive our two  emergency cards below for the sweet price of $1.99 (US customers only receive free shipping), again send us an email:  INFO<at>SigningFamilies<dot>com

For bulk rates for Schools/ PTOs, Hospitals and EMS organizations please also connect at the email above or via SigningFamilies.com

Thank you!

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NATIONAL EMERGENCY ALERT TEST 2 PM EST… ASL ACCESS

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 has been designated as the National Emergency Alert Test Day.  This will be only a TEST.  Information that is IMPORTANT for our deaf friends can be found here   (The video includes American Sign Language– ASL)

Below you will find the SIGNING FAMILIES Sign Expressions Emergency Card that was created for EMS, Firefighters, Law Enforcement , to name a few, to help facilitate communication with ASL users and Spanish speakers.  Send an email to INFO@SigningFamilies.com to learn how you or your organization can receive one or more cards for less than 75 cents each (this weeks special).

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