People with dwarfism are often misrepresented in popular media and culture. Yet our own voices are rarely heard. That’s why we embarked upon the RGA Dwarfism Role Models project – to amplify the voices of figureheads in our communities. To mark the start of Dwarfism Awareness Month 2018, we spoke with Kiruna Stamell, actress and disability rights activist. Here’s what we learned. Read More
It’s been a little while but we’re back with a fantastic new Role Model in the Dwarfism Community interview! This time, we had the privilege of speaking with Mia Ives-Rublee, a civil rights activist. Check out what she had to say. Read More
People with dwarfism are often misrepresented in media and popular culture. Yet our own voices are rarely heard. That’s why we started our Role Models in the Dwarfism Community series – to showcase figureheads in our own communities. Today, we spoke with Cara Reedy, writer, actor, producer and director.Read More
People with dwarfism are often misrepresented in popular media and culture. Yet our own voices are rarely heard. That’s why we embarked upon the RGA Dwarfism Role Models project – to amplify the voices of figureheads in our communities. For this, our latest instalment, we spoke with Joe Stramondo, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at San Diego State University.Read More
We’re back – with yet another great installment in our series of interviews with role models from the dwarfism community. This time we spoke to Vilissa Thompson – social worker, writer, and self-confessed “badass”. Check out what she had to say.Read More
Happy New Year! We’re back with a new installment in our series of interviews with role models in dwarfism communities. We spoke to artist and academic, Dr Debra Keenahan.Read More
We’re back with another great interview in our role models in the dwarfism community. This time, we spoke to Dr Will Christian – a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine – who had some excellent advice for us all. Read More
Continuing our popular series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community we spoke with John Young, teacher, coach, athlete and marathon runner. Check out what he had to say. Read More
Our series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community is back! This time, we spoke with Matt Hepburn – ex-political hack, campaigner, and commentator. Think you know someone who is a great role model for people with dwarfism? Let us know…Read More
Welcome to the fourth installment in our series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community. We spoke to Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research and radio show presenter. Here’s what he had to say to us:
Please introduce yourself: who are you and where are you from?
My name is Tom Shakespeare, I was born in Aylesbury, Bucks, and now I live in Norwich, Norfolk.
And what do you do?
I am Professor of Disability Research at the University of East Anglia. I teach medical students, and I also conduct disability research, both in UK and Africa.
Do you enjoy it?
Yes, I enjoy my work very much. It is very varied: teaching here, interviewing someone there, writing a paper after that. I enjoy meeting different people all the time. In particular, I really like my medical students, they work very hard and they are committed to what they’re trying to do. I also do media work – particularly giving talks on Radio 4 – which I find very rewarding because I get instant feedback from listeners. It’s always very satisfying to write a book – the feedback is not instant, more like a slow burn of appreciation.
How did you end up doing it?
I left Uni and worked for a couple of years in the co-operative sector. I then went back to Uni and did a Masters and a Doctorate. After that, I worked as an academic for most of my career, with one five year break working at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and another three year break to do arts activities.
If you were 21 again, would you do something different?
I sometimes wonder about that. I love media work, and maybe I could have tried to have become a journalist, either on a newspaper or in BBC radio. But I feel mostly content with what I’ve done with my life.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Meeting different people is always rewarding. But I also love learning things, and this job is about continually finding new things out.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
My first paid work was counting laundry in a hospital for people with learning difficulties for a week. The laundry was soiled. I don’t think it’s possible to find a worse job.
What are the best and worst aspects about being small?
Best aspect is that everyone remembers you. Worst aspect, from the age of 50, has been the health problems – back pain for years, now paralysis and being reliant on a wheelchair.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to your teenage self what would that be?
Don’t worry about relationships. If you have a positive personality, people will love you.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Maybe Barrack Obama. He’s very clever. He’s very funny. He had a great impact on the world, and above all, he’s so cool.
How do you like to pass the time, outside of work?
Cooking, reading, watching films, listening to music.
What’s your favourite book?
Possibly The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald. Or maybe The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brian. Or To The Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf. So many books, so little time!
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I once used the word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’
When your time comes, how would you like to be remembered?