- Randi Curhan
Celebrating Differences at Community Event
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Kudos to a California nonprofit whose mission is to give language to all while celebrating our differences! GraceSigns recently celebrated with approximately 75 people as a way of giving back to the community who helped jump start their organization. GraceSigns hosted this event which had its start nearly 9 years ago. Valerie Carter’s daughter Grace was born with Down Syndrome and a speech disorder called Apraxia. Because of this, they communicating with each other was always extremely challenging. Valerie successfully took on a life challenge for her family and in the process was inspired to help others.
Never underestimate the power of a mom on a mission!
Instead of being defeated, Valerie looked for positive solutions. She began to learn sign language together with Grace. This changed everything, finally they could communicate! And because it helped them so much, Valerie wanted to make the learning of sign language easy and fun for others as well. She started the nonprofit GraceSigns in 2013 and since that time, has created three learning mobile apps - available on all Google and Apple devices for free - with no in-app-purchases, no advertising and no internet access. They are terrific learning tools for those with Down Syndrome, Autism, hearing impairments, individuals struggling to communicate and anyone wanting to build bridges through ASL.
Grace Signs apps- Sign Me A Story, Sign Me ABCs and Sign Me a Sentence have been downloaded over a million times in 184 countries and are top rated by teachers, parents, speech therapists and, most importantly ... loved by kids!
GraceSigns mission is to create inclusive sign language apps. GraceSigns demonstrates that mission by hiring vendors like Mozzeria which is an entirely deaf-run pizza food truck (and is really delicious too) and Futures Explored a nonprofit developing work opportunities for individuals with development disabilities. GraceSigns also employs individuals with Down syndrome to showcase sign language through their program: Signing Stars.
Much appreciation was given to the Bank of Marin for co-hosting the September 16th celebratory event at Piper Park in Larkspur in Marin County, CA. Pizza, music and dancing with the help of a fabulous DJ team, ice cream and of course sign language were all on the menu at the high-energy event. Valerie noted in her speech that none of this would have been possible without the donors, board members, staff, community members and families with special needs.
A small nonprofit with a big impact!
A number of organizations were thanked including: Taproot, Global Down Syndrome Foundation and Noble House Media Group. Valerie expressed her appreciation to the volunteers who made these apps a reality: those who did the coding, the music, the artwork, the photography, the videotaping, the bookkeeping, the writing and the marketing. GraceSigns was founded for those individuals with challenges and many of them have participated in the making of the apps by learning to sign and actually being in them!
All apps are free and funded by grants and donations to learn more visit GraceSigns.
Randi Curhan is a writer, human rights activist and owner of Mission Boost Marketing.