On Sunday we had lunch in a Mexican restaurant not far from our hotel. We were seated and had ordered when a large extended family arrived. It was a cheery and welcoming place and the waitstaff pulled together to pull tables together so that all could be seated. I heard one of them say that there were four more people yet to come and the staff ensured that there were enough chairs at the table. They all chatted, clearly catching up with each other, they laughed, they poked fun at each other, they were, clearly, a loving family.
When the others arrived there was a complete shift, not in mood, not in spirit, not in noise level but suddenly they were all, ALL, signing. The family that arrived had two daughters. One was about 4 and the other maybe 7 or 8. The older child was excited to see the family and her signs flew so fast as to blur - an older woman, grandmotherly, signed while speaking asking her to slow down just a wee bit. They all laughed at the exaggerated shrug the little girl gave.
Through the entire lunch, at least until we left, people spoke and signed both. The addition of the signing to the conversation seemed as natural as could be. The girls little sister wasn't far behind in her use of sign and she took to it as naturally as she did speech. This was a family to be reckoned with, this was a family who had no room for exclusion.
When the waitress came to take the order she went around the table, when she came to the child who as deaf she took her cue from all the others. She spoke right to the child, her father interpreted the child's order and that was that. It was a complete demonstration of what family could be and should be. Aunts and uncles, grandparents all, had bothered to learn a new way of communicating to ensure that a lovely little girl felt embraced by their love.
Inclusion begins, like everything else, at home.