On Deaf and Little Person Identities

Shira Grabelski Opens Up: Take a few minutes to watch this video straight from the heart of a Deaf woman who is also a Little Person. Shira’s forthrightness and honesty about how she identifies herself will pull you right in and remind you that whatever identities define us, the bottom line is, we are all human and the same. Thank you for your candid and open words, Shira. You have brightened more people’s days than you may realize!

  1. Sarah November 14, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was deeply moving. There is so much power in the idea of us relating to one another. We each are able to create our own identities based on how we see ourselves and not allow the ones that society creates influence our own beliefs. Once strengthened we can use this to change the discourse happening within society. This reminds me of the African philosophy/ethic movement Ubuntu which reminds people that they are connected to the greater whole, instead of thinking of themselves as individuals separated from each other. Very informative–thanks!

  2. Gene Cochrane November 14, 2012

    You are truly beautiful person from inside and outside… I love how you are so positive and beautiful smile made me smile… I am same way as you are… I have put a lot positive in Paris, TN… And it funny bec everyone knows me so well and willing to learn sign.. Such as Dollar store, Wal-Mart, etc… But I can talk but problem is they treat me I am from other countries… But I am from deaf world… And always put positive and smiles a lot.. Many people always say to me.. You always happy and so positive and out going… But I don’t show my problem or share… Smiling

    You are truly amazing person… I can’t wait to watch more video of yours… To be honest, never see anyone so positive like you as deaf person… I am smiling now knowing you are special person.. God have giving beautiful life and yes we learn a lot hard life but be able to make it better smiling.. I wish I could meet u in person and give u a big hug and say hi friend let have coffee smiling…

    I used to live in sacrament 18 yrs and now living TN where so many people really look down on deaf… I used to work Nor-Cal Center for Deaf and HOH agency… I was bless to have that key to help some deaf people here smiling… It’s awesome… Oh my name is Gene Cochrane… Smiling…

  3. Jenn November 14, 2012

    Hello, Shira! Good video. I qualify to join the LPA but as you say, the deaf community is good enough.

    I am “hard of height” rather than clearly identifable as a little person. It seems people always assume I am just average short, then suddenly laugh when they realize I’m much shorter than average.

    One thing I did notice at Gallaudet long ago is that they didn’t understand universal design. They threw out the old fashioned counters for tall computer-shielding counters. I couldn’t see over them or get attention easily. I blew my top at that, saying what about people in wheelchairs? Another time I had to make a report to DSS and the officer would not come out behind her counter so I stood on a chair to sign and she started laughing “because you’re so short.”

    With hearing community, they notice me but I don’t get such rude comments from them because I don’t lipread them. That is an example of intersectionality (deaf and being little) being a double frustration.

    I 100% support universal sign and want the deaf community, any institution serving the deaf, to really think about the importance of not creating barriers for any deaf person just because they are not average in height or vision or any other way.

    In stores, I don’t like having to use a special counter for the handicapped that is never staffed because the store doesn’t see it as normal service, just “on need.” It gets frustrating to get attention and help without being able to speak clearly.

    Again, I’m “hard of height” so they may not immediately realize that things are too high for me or that I require visual contact and I will not be satisfied staring at a wall instead of the person. I don’t expect them to realize that and immediately help me. No, most of the time I don’t need people helping me without me asking them.

    But I expect to see universal design for everybody, not just for the disabled. That’s what universal means.

    I liked your positive attitude in this video. Thanks!

  4. Rachael Gavrun October 2, 2016

    my name Rachael Gavrun only Deaf full ears help how need


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