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Gaylord Rockies arranges special Santa visit for deaf children

"Santa Charles" communicates with kids through American Sign Language
Santa Charles Gaylord Rockies.jpg
Posted at 8:23 AM, Dec 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-08 10:59:46-05

AURORA, Colo. — Every child deserves to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. This week, children from Rocky Mountain Deaf School had an opportunity to visit a deaf Santa Clause who communicated with them in American Sign Language.

Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention center arranged the visit with Charles Graves, aka “Santa Charles.” Graves is visiting all five Gaylord resorts this month to spread joy in a way only he can, because he grew up just like these kids.

Graves remembers feeling excluded when his family went to visit Santa. As an adult, his wife encouraged him to take advantage of his authentic long white beard and play Santa for deaf children.

It’s important for kids to have access to a Santa who is deaf, rather than a hearing person who can communicate in ASL, Rocky Mountain Deaf School director Eileen Kratzer said.

“It’s a more authentic experience for the children,” she said.

Over 755,000 Coloradans identify as deaf or hard of hearing. Rocky Mountain Deaf School provides programs for children as young as 18 months old.

Sign-language Santa talks with kids who are deaf

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