Savannah Dahan is like many other girls her age. She loves music, is especially fond of Carrie Underwood and likes to sing to her favorite songs.
But she also has a skill most 8-year-olds don’t: She knows American Sign Language. It’s a way of life for the Dahan family, as Savannah’s mom, dad and siblings are all deaf, which means they have learned ASL from a young age so they can communicate.
“She was born with moderate/severe hearing loss,” Richard Dahan, her father, told “Today.”
“Because everyone is deaf in the family and uses ASL to communicate, she identifies herself as deaf. She uses hearing aids at times at school and home.”
One day, Savannah asked her parents to record her performance of “The Champion” by Underwood featuring Ludacris, and it has since gone viral.
“She asked us to record her because she likes to see herself perform,” Dahan said.
“We were very surprised to see that both hearing and deaf people have responded positively,” he added. “Her performance has touched many people and many people have reached out to express how that song helped them.”
Viewers have loved how enthusiastic the girl is, and her spirit is right in line with the song. Her process of learning a song is an art and a science, and it works beautifully for her.
“ASL involves body language and facial expressions,” Dahan told The Baltimore Sun. “My daughter was able to share her emotions with intensity.”
“She first memorizes the lyrics and then learns to match the beats with those lyrics. That is how she is able to follow the song.”
The family has started a page to illustrate the benefits of learning ASL from a young age. “Savvy ASL” also hopes that this viral video will help inform people and get them interested in ASL.
“We hope the video will show the importance of early exposure to ASL and for the world to see kids with proper communication access at school and home can express themselves just as rich and beautiful as kids that can hear,” Dahan said.
“We’re proud, we have a culture. We don’t think of ourselves as disabled. (ASL) is a beautiful language of grammar and structure.”