Deaf Publix Worker Didn't Hear Customer. Then, a Hit on Her Back

Liberty Gratz says female customer couldn't be identified
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2018 12:10 PM CDT
This 2013 file photo shows a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Fla.   (AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz, File)

(Newser) – Publix employee Liberty Gratz is deaf and partially blind, so she normally interacts with customers using pen and paper. She's now on the lookout for one customer who she says didn't give her that opportunity. Using American Sign Language translated by her mother, 21-year-old Gratz tells WRIC she was straightening a shelf at a Publix in Midlothian, Va., on Saturday when "all of a sudden, I felt some woman hit me in my back." Gratz says the woman had apparently been trying to get her attention, unaware she suffers hearing and peripheral vision issues as a result of Usher syndrome, a condition Gratz and her twin brother were born with. It's described on a GoFundMe page for her family as "the most common genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness."

Though her mother says Gratz "doesn't always notice the people beside her," per WRIC, she tells the News & Observer her daughter was "stunned" by the hit. She "turned and told the lady she couldn't hear by pointing to her ear and shaking her head no. She handed the lady a pen and paper so she could tell her what she needed, then showed her where it was," Gratz's mother adds, noting the customer still acted angry. Gratz says store managers looked "again and again and again" at footage of the incident, but they couldn't identify the woman "because there were so many people blocking the camera." She says she still hopes to get in touch with her, though, simply to teach her about being kind to people, regardless of whether they have a disability. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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