A vacation to Disney World can be a magical experience for any little girl. But for four-year-old Shaylee Mansfield it turned into a particularly enchanting experience. When she met Tinkerbell, something happened that nobody expected. The fairy did something with her hands that left the whole room spellbound, and helping the resort live up to its aspiration of being “the happiest place on Earth.”
In a video posted to YouTube by user Sheena McFeely, Mansfield is seen meeting a host of Disney characters while on vacation with her mom, dad and sister. While eating at a restaurant, Snow White stops by to say hello, and the girls get hugs from Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. Elsewhere they meet Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Cinderella.
However, the girls don’t say much to their Disney heroes. But that’s not because they’re shy or star-struck. Rather, it’s because Mansfield is deaf and communicates through sign language. Furthermore, although her little sister is able to hear, her mom and dad are deaf, too. But the whole family were stunned when they met one of Disney’s most recognizable stars.
When the Texan family met Tinkerbell, the fairy started gesturing with her hands. To Mansfield’s absolute joy, Peter Pan’s famous friend signals, “Hi, my name is T-I-N-K.” And furthermore, elsewhere in the theme park, Minnie Mouse explained to the four-year-old that she, too, was learning how to sign, entirely using the language that Mansfield understands – American Sign Language.
In a bid to improve its accessibility, Disney provides services for deaf and hard of hearing guests, including a signing Mickey Mouse. “When I was growing up, I never expected anyone to sign. That was the world I grew up in,” Mrs Mansfield explained in a Disney video. Mr Mansfield added, “It made [our daughter] proud of her own language. She made that connection.”