Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Texas, disabled girl wins spelling bee using sign language

From MYFOXDFW.COM. (Media dis&dat note: The incorrect headline with this story called her "mute.")

RICHARDSON, Texas - Tanu Shivaswamy (pictured) suffers from cerebral palsy and can't speak, but those obstacles didn’t stop her from winning her school spelling bee and moving on to district finals.

In fact, the 10-year-old Canyon Creek Elementary student on Wednesday afternoon was slated to square off in the Richardson Independent School District bee.

While the fifth-grader walks with a limp and shows signs of other physical limitations, her mind is unaffected by the illness, said district representative Tim Clark.

"Her cognitive ability is just fine," Clark said.

In fact, he said, Tanu is the first-ever non-verbal spelling bee winner in RISD.

To compete, Tanu listens to the questions and responds using American Sign Language. Her interpreter then speaks the answers to the judges.

The method clearly works for Tanu but her father was concerned that the district bee would not allow it. So, he shot video of his daughter during the school-level competition and uploaded the clip to YouTube.

The footage allowed district officials to see Tanu in action and approve the winning approach.

Clark said the remarkable girl not only has brains, but personality to spare.

"She lights up the room when she walks in," Clark said.