Business hopes for votes to get grant

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A local small business hopes to win a grant in a nationwide contest to help hire people with disabilities.

Sign With Me Virginia, which is based in Hampton and has offered American Sign Language classes in Suffolk, is looking for votes to win a grant from Mission: Small Business.

The business hopes to open kiosks in local malls to sell products for the deaf and special needs community, hire people with disabilities to run each location, hire from the deaf community to expand sign language classes and set up a website where people with disabilities can advertise their services and communicate with each other.

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“People that have special needs need to be a productive part of our society also, and they need to be made employable,” said Diann Shorter, the owner of Sign With Me Virginia. “I really want to give back and hire people with disabilities. I want the special needs and deaf community to be employed.”

Shorter started the company two years ago and has taught several sign language classes in the area, including some in Suffolk.

She also has an online store with products for those with special needs. Now she’d like to take it to the next level — and give back in the process by hiring those with special needs — with the help of the grant.

“I’m not going to hand out money,” she said. “It is a small business loan.”

The business needs 250 votes by June 30 to be considered for the grant. To vote for Sign With Me Virginia, go to, sign in to Facebook on the right, accept the app, enter Virginia and Hampton for the state and city, and vote for Sign With Me Virginia.

For more information, visit the company’s website at