Did you know that September is Deaf Awareness Month? Also, September 23rd is International Day of Sign Languages, according to the UN Generally Assembly. Meanwhile, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) celebrates the International Week of the Deaf during the last full week of September. One talented individual has dedicated her art and her life to advocating for deaf awareness and sign language. Meet 10-year-old performance artist, Savannah Dahan.
Savannah Dahan’s American Sign Language Advocacy
There are around 72 million deaf people around the world. Also, there are more than 300 different sign languages, according to the World Federation of the Deaf.
Savannah was born with moderate to severe hearing loss. Her parents, and siblings are all deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. Read on to learn more about her amazing story in our exclusive interview.
In 2019, Savannah asked her dad to record a video of her signing a Carrie Underwood hit. They didn’t expect that it would go viral and get over millions of views. Thanks to the popularity of the video, “The Champion” singer invited Savannah to one of the legs of the Cry Pretty Tour 360. Since then, Savvy has been an active advocate for ASL. She mainly performs pop songs and collaborates with other public figures to inspire through ASL.
What or who inspired you to do American Sign Language covers of pop songs?
I remember my mother who would sign “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” every night before I go to sleep. During car rides, she would turn on music and sign to me. She always made sure that I got access to music. I wanted to do the same for my family, so I decided to sign “The Champion” by Carrie Underwood and then, SavvyASL emerged.
What misconceptions about the Deaf or Hard of Hearing do you want to set straight?
The common misconception the society has towards Deaf people is that we are not able to do anything because we are deaf, which isn’t completely true. We are able to do anything except hear, and we have people working in the fields of education, health, politics, law, and others. We have our own culture, language, and diverse backgrounds, which make us a unique community that I am so proud to be part of.
What are the best ways people can spread Deaf awareness and help the cause?
The most effective approach to raise awareness about any cause is to set or use one’s platform, advocate, and share information about resources. I’ve been using my platform to raise awareness about ASL as a language and the Deaf culture.
I have also been promoting marine conservancy through Marine Mondays, which contains information about marine life and teaching signs for marine animals. I use hashtags across my social media platform to reach diverse audiences and often use #deaf to feature deaf talents.
Getting to Know Savannah
Savannah Dahan has been featured in several shows, including ABC’s Good Morning America. Most recently, she was part of NBC’s Little Big Shots Season 4, a show that celebrates remarkable young people around the globe. Currently, she has over 60,000 followers on Facebook and around 18,500 followers on Instagram. Here are some of the interesting things we got to know about this inspiring artist:
This or That?
Beach or mountains?
I’d have to pick both because each one offers a different kind of adventure. The beach offers various water activities and one of my favorites is to see marine animals while mountains come with a beautiful scenic view, forests, and wild animals.
Nemo or Dory?
Dory. She’s so cute and I loved her bubbly personality just like me!
Green, blue, or pink Christmas tree?
Rap or pop?
I picked pop because of its timing and rhythm. Rap is much faster and it’s a little bit harder to understand the lyrics. But, it has overall great beats. yeah yeah yeah yeah
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
I was able to use my platform to show that ASL is a beautiful language!
Tell us about your guesting in NBC Little Big Shots.
At first, I was nervous because I did not know what to expect since it was my first time being on a national TV show. As time went by and I got to know the crew and Melissa McCarthy, I became more confident and excited about performing on the stage.
When I performed the song on the stage, I felt like I was on top of the world and it was awesome! The best part is when my parents danced along while I was performing, and you can even see them on TV. Hilarious! *giggles*
“Waves of Progress” for Marine Conservation
Outside the Deaf society and her other interests, Savannah also passionately promotes marine life conservation.
What inspired you to become a marine conservationist?
I visited my family in Florida while growing up and they lived down the street from the beach, where I grew my love for the ocean life. I remember when I was a little girl, I watched a video of my favorite animal—the sea turtle—being rescued from plastic straws being stuck in their nose and it broke my heart.
After seeing that, I did research and found important information about pollution and how we as humans are responsible for it. I decided to take part in the efforts to help prevent pollution because sea animals deserve to live a good life.
How did you come up with Marine Mondays?
My parents and I discussed how to raise awareness about marine conservancy on my social media platform and we came up with a catchy title when I was fingerspelling “Marine.” Pretty cool, right?
Celebrating the Savvy Way
Since we’re all about the holidays at Treetopia, we also took this opportunity to get Savannah’s take on the most wonderful time of the year, which is only a few months away. Check out how she had fun with Treetopia’s green and colorful Christmas trees.
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is Chrismukkah because we get together as a family, play games, and open presents during one of my favorite seasons, which is winter. I love betting Hanukkah gelt with my sisters during a dreidel game!
What about decorating your Christmas trees did you enjoy the most?
I loved seeing all different kinds of ornaments being put on the tree and I was proud of what I made in school. I feel like every ornament I hung up has a meaning behind it. [Also,] ribbons make the tree prettier!
Colors Speak Louder Than Words
Like ASL, colors can be another way to express yourself and show your unique personality. To conclude the interview, we asked Savannah about her experience with colors. We also asked her what she wants other Deaf or Hard of Hearing kids to know.
What colors speak to you the most? What message does each send?
I pick blue because it speaks volumes of my love for marine life and millions of specimens living in the ocean, which is amazing. It shows that there is so much to learn about life and explore in the world.
What message do you have for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, especially kids?
Desire whatever your heart tells you, be gentle with your passion, and follow your dream. Have fun doing what you love!
If you’d like to get to know more about Savannah Dahan, deaf culture, and sign language, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Share this post with friends and family to inspire them, too.