asl, deaf, sign language, disney, signup

Mariella Satow, 17, spent her pandemic down time creating a signing app for children's films.

Subtitles and closed captions make it possible for deaf people to enjoy films and television shows—but what about little kids who can't read yet, or whose reading isn't fast enough to keep up with the captions? How does a deaf child fully appreciate a children's movie if they can't understand what any of the characters are saying and can't read the captions?

Mariella Satow ran into that question when she was teaching herself American Sign Language.

According to the BBC, 17-year-old Satow wanted to watch TV shows with sign language interpretation to help her learn ASL, but found very few that included signing. At first, that was the problem she wanted to solve, but as she learned more about deaf children, she realized an app that included sign language interpretation for kids' movies could also fill a gap in the deaf community.

"Me and my sister were avid movie watchers when we were younger, and I couldn't imagine that not being a part of our childhood," she told BBC's Newsbeat.

Satow has dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. and had been attending high school in England, but when she got stuck in New York during the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, she used the pandemic downtime—and her $3000 savings from dog walking—to create an app. It took her a year to develop the technology, and with the help of the deaf community and ASL teachers, the SignUp app was born.


SignUp is a free Google Chrome extension that provides sign language captioning over Disney+ videos. It puts a small box with a sign language interpreter in the corner of the screen while the movie plays—a surprisingly simple solution to the problem of kids not being able to hear or read captions.

"I think accessibility is so important, in general, and this seems like quite a basic need," Satow told Sag Harbor Express. "So many comments have been, 'I can't believe this didn't exist before,' which is surprising, I thought, because it is so needed."

Testimonials on the SignUp website speak to how much this app means to deaf kids and their parents.

"We watched 'Moana' on Thursday night, with the SignUp interpreter on. My six-year-old daughter's face was priceless. She LOVED it. She's not reading yet, so captions don't mean anything. It was the first time she's had full access to a movie. Thank you thank you!!" — Karli H.

"SignUp is simply amazing. My son was born deaf and until recently, captions did nothing for him. He is only 8, so often captions are still way too fast. SignUp provides full access to movies he loves and now he loves them even more! We are so thrilled to finally have full access! This is true equality!" — Jarod Mills

"Thank you so much for developing SignUp! My daughter is Deaf, and can't read, and this provides her with the ability to enjoy movies via her native language of ASL." — Will B.

"The most meaningful comments are when it's the first time a child has had full access to a movie," Satow told the BBC. "The numbers don't really matter, it's the messages."

Right now, the app is only available for a handful of Disney+ videos. Satow thought the site was a good place to start to have the most impact for kids, but she now has requests to add hundreds more films to the app and is planning a British Sign Language version of the app.

"There are more than 300 sign languages used worldwide, so it'll take a long time to get all of those versions out," she said.

Here's how to get the extension and use it to launch signing captions:

Satow has been sustaining SignUp as a free app with her dog-walking money, but the site has reached a point where more resources are needed for advertising and expanding to other platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. She launched a GoFundMe, which you can find here. (As of this writing, she had raised $3500 of the $10,000 she hopes to raise. Let's support her and get that up a bit, shall we?)

Satow is surprised but thrilled with the reception SignUp has gotten.

"I'm glad I could fill the gap in the small way I can," Satow told Sag Harbor Express. "I hope it sparks a movement of ASL captioning on everything."

What an awesome example of seeing a need and taking the initiative to meet it. Well done, Ms. Satow.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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