TEMPLE, Texas – An important part of Deaf culture is sign names.

In order to receive a sign name, the person must be involved enough in the Deaf community. Only a Deaf person can give sign names.

“If you are often in the Deaf community and are a part of our little family here, then often you have a sign name so that we can refer to you like we do everyone else,” Deaf education teacher Katie Swann said.

Deaf education students at the Temple Regional Day School for the Deaf gave their superintendent, Dr. Bobby Ott, a sign name.

His sign name includes an “O” for Ott, combined with the sign for glasses.

Dr. Ott wanted a sign name, and the students wanted to give that to him.

“He made them feel like they were included like any other classroom he would visit in Temple,” Coordinator for the Regional Day School for the Deaf, Kristina Ford said.

When coming up with a sign name – the deaf person looks at different characteristics or unique things about the person.

“Sometimes it is based off of your interests and hobbies,” Swann said. “Like if you’re really good at basketball or you love pizza, stuff like that, sometimes that’s how it’s made.”

The Deaf education teachers and interpreters help ensure equal access to education.

Swann emphasized that her kids are just like everyone else.

“They want to have fun,” Swann said. “They want to have friends. They want to be able to talk about Santa and what they want for Christmas.”

She encourages everyone to learn a little bit of sign language.

“Even just saying hello just lights up their world, Swann said. “It’s not something to be scared of or to avoid.”