LPA | A New Experience

LPA - Young Woman Handbag Jewel SwirlHDS MEDALLION® Co-Owner, Carol Rady and her sister and designer, Sharon Richardson recently exhibited their designer bags at the LPA National Conference in San Diego. Little People of America (LPA) is a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature[1] and their families. LPA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with dwarfism throughout their lives while celebrating with great pride Little People’s contribution to social diversity. LPA strives to bring solutions and global awareness to the prominent issues affecting individuals of short stature and their families.

Here are some of Carol’s observations and insights from the conference.

My first impression was being astonished at the diversity of dwarfism.  This conference was held at the Manchester Hyatt of San Diego and there were hundreds of individuals and families attending.  Seeing the range of physical manifestations of dwarfism congregated certainly brings home the extent of these conditions.

Second observation was how much fun the attendees had with nightly dances, a fashion show, a talent show, medical workshops, trips to the San Diego Zoo and other sites, adoption and parenting workshops, raffles, and of course, the expo where we were exhibiting our bags.  We also had to laugh at young men getting on the elevator with their backpacks loaded with beer, families coming from the pool, everyone watching the world cup games in the lounges, etc. Everyone was friendly and helpful.

We were fortunate to work with a number of women relative to our bags.  Of the little people who were on a mobility device, the vast majority use a scooter. That was great for us in that all of our bags work on scooters.  But the surprise for us was also the number of women who were not on devices, but loved the bags.  Our bags, especially the Demi-Premiers were perfect as cross-body or shoulder bags.  So our potential audience was broader.

We also learned a lot about language. “When referring to people of short stature, Little People of America will use the terms ‘dwarf,’ ‘little person,’ ‘person with dwarfism,’ or ‘person of short stature,’” reads the LPA statement. “In addition to promoting positive language around people of short stature, Little People of America will … spread awareness to prevent use of the word ‘midget,’ considered offensive by Little People of America.”

2014-07-08 14.52.37You cannot help but become aware of the physical challenges facing many little people especially the ability to reach a sink, soap, paper towels, etc.  These situations reminded me of the struggles of disabled people in accessibility, functionality, etc. (see Auti blogs).  On at least one occasion we personally had to lift women up to the counter so they could reach the women’s room sinks.  Plus we watched the joy of kids with dwarfism so excited to try special bicycles proportioned to their sizes, and of families checking out the furniture designed for people of short stature.  So we gained a direct appreciation for their day-to-day obstacles.  As a counter to that, we had great fun meeting and interacting with so many terrific women and girls.

One in particular was a surprise.  We met Cuquis at the 2013 Houston Abilities Expo and her Mom bought 2 bags for her to put on her scooter for her Freshman year at Duke.  Her picture is on our facebook banner and one of our handouts.  She and her mother were attending the LPA National Conference for the first time and came to see us.  She had had surgery last summer on her legs and could walk more, reserving her scooter for longer distances.  We were so excited to see her, we had our picture taken.

All in all, it was a great learning experience, rewarding in the people we met, and naturally selling some of our bags was good. To read more about the LPA, check out their site, http://www.lpaonline.org/.

[1] The standard definition of dwarfism includes anyone 4-foot-10 or smaller whose stature is attributed to one of at least 200 medical conditions that cause dwarfism. Some of the conditions are genetically based, while others are not.


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