These Irish girls performed a sign-language Christmas classic to prove a powerful point.

Everyone knows the best thing about Christmas is the Christmas songs.

Image via iStock.

"Jingle Bells"? Classic. "Frosty the Snowman"? Timeless. "Feliz Navidad"? You know you secretly love it.


And this holiday season is a perfect time to think about how we can make our favorite traditions accessible to everyone, even people who may not be able to hear all of those festive classics.

That's why three students from Ireland recently made a sign-language sing-a-long of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Abbie O'Neill, Amy Durkin, and Joanne O'Donnell, who are students at the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College, donned their finest winter hats and proceeded to jam out to one of the catchiest Christmas classics ever created.

Using only their hands, of course.

The video started off as a class assignment but soon spread far and wide via social media, both inside and beyond the deaf community.

"We've got such supportive responses and messages from hearing and deaf people from all around the world," the three friends wrote in an email.

The video currently has over 200,000 views on Facebook, where hundreds of commenters have shared their admiration for the girls' efforts.

Check the video out below:

It's a month till Christmas yo!! Irish Sign Language performance of Santa Claus is Coming to Town :)

Posted by Abbie O'Neill on Friday, November 25, 2016

But this wasn't just a holly-jolly gesture of inclusion. It was part of a much bigger statement.

Ireland has a deaf and hard-of-hearing population of over 90,000 people, many of whom rely on Irish Sign Language (ISL) to communicate and live their lives. But ISL isn't currently recognized as an official language by the Republic of Ireland. That means many in the deaf community face tremendous difficulties in schools that don't cater to their needs or accessing government programs that aren't required to provide interpreters.

In a broader sense, not recognizing ISL as an official language leads to a much bigger lack of awareness and consideration for the deaf community, too. O'Neill, Durkin, and O'Donnell recall going to see a subtitled film recently. The theater staff forgot to turn on the subtitles until several minutes into the movie. After the movie, they spoke to a deaf couple in the audience about it. The couple "simply laughed — they're all used to this lack of awareness and indifference from the wider hearing community."

In a broader sense, not recognizing ISL leads to a much bigger lack of awareness and consideration for the deaf community.

But there is hope on the horizon, in the form of the Irish Sign Language Bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Daly, that would designate ISL as a native and independent language. The bill is quickly gaining momentum.

"The Irish deaf community have been denied equal rights and opportunities for years," Daly told The Journal. "The impact of this piece of legislation would be truly transformative."

If and when the bill passes, it will be due in large part to the efforts of Ireland's deaf community in bringing more attention to the conflict.

So while this viral video might look like just an adorable sing-a-long, it's actually a lot more.

Thanks to three students, it's also part of an important mission: improving the lives of thousands and thousands of deaf Irish men and women.

"The Deaf Community in Ireland has been fighting for years to have ISL recognised," the friends wrote. "We're just happy that we could bring some awareness to it."

That alone is a heck of a gift this holiday season.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

Strangers helping out strangers is always a heartwarming thing. But when lots and lots of strangers come together to help one individual who needs and deserves a little hand up, we get a much-needed flood of warm, gushy best-of-humanity feelings.

Such is the case of an 89-year-old pizza delivery man, Derlin Newey, who happened to win the hearts of the Valdez family after he delivered them a pizza and struck up a conversation. Newey had no idea his friendly demeanor and obviously stellar work ethic would soon make him a TikTok star, nor did he expect an outpouring of donations from perfect strangers that relieve some of his burden.

Carlos Valdez shared the initial pizza delivery video, taken through the family's Nest doorbell, on TikTok about a week ago. "Hello, are you looking for some pizza?" Newey says when they answer the door, then chats with them for a while.


Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less

Working parents have always had the challenge of juggling career and kids. But during the pandemic, that juggling act feels like a full-on, three-ring circus performance, complete with clowns and rings of fire and flying elephants.

With millions of kids doing virtual learning, our routines and home lives have taken a dramatic shift. Some parents are trying to navigate working from home at the same time, some are trying to figure out who's going to watch over their kids while they work outside the home, and some are scrambling to find a new job because theirs got eliminated due to the pandemic. In addition to the logistical challenges, parents also have to deal with the emotional ups and downs of their kids, who are also dealing with an uncertain and altered reality, while also managing their own existential dread.

It's a whole freaking lot right now, honestly.

Keep Reading Show less