Interview with TheDisabledLife

Interview with TheDisabledLife

Fri, 08/27/2021 - 8:00am - Sat, 08/27/2022 - 10:00pm

Jessica (right) and her sister, Lianna, in their electric wheelchairs

"Our existence has nothing to do with the comparative narrative we all seem to live by. Disabled people are human, we exist, fail, succeed, and are pretty boring most of the time. We're not here to "inspire" you to push through, or whatever it is you're looking to do."

Hello and welcome back to Move to Include's interview series! We have scoured the Internet for unique and diverse content creators with disabilities, ranging from YouTubers to artists to CEOs. In these interviews, we hope to allow the creators to share their stories and passions, helping our audience step into their shoes for one day. Today, we are interviewing Jessica and Lianna Oddi, founders of the blog TheDisabledLife.

What is TheDisabledLife and the sisters' story? In their own words, "Two Canadian sisters documenting the jerks and perks of living #TheDisabledLife." Both sisters are wheelchair users due to an undiagnosed genetic condition. Their website began as a Twitter account, and it has grown into a project to reflect the difficulties they face, including assumptions from strangers, the lack of accessibility, and unwanted pity.

How are you doing, really?

Depends on what context you're referring to. Are we talking about our disability, the pandemic, or our place in the universe? As far as our disability goes, things are pretty solid; thanks for asking! As far as the pandemic goes, it's been a non-stop rollercoaster of emotion that can't be summed up in one sentence. As far as our place in the universe goes, well an astronomer may have a better answer for you. Philosophically speaking, purpose and goals feel like a human construct... we probably didn't answer this right. Moving on!

What has been the highlight of your year so far?

The two of us had a chance to be part of an online webinar hosted by Access for Everyone. That was an amazing experience and a lot of fun! It was so nice to meet such amazing people who are changing the narrative about disabilities.

Separately, because we are two individuals with our own lives (sometimes), Jess feels her highlight was her [participation in the webinar for Where are the Black Designers. It was an honour to both participate and volunteer for such an incredible event! And for Lianna, her highlight was celebrating 1 year of being a Crisis Responder for a suicide hotline...although that's tied with reaching level 100 on Mario Kart for mobile.

What is one of your goals for this year, personal or work-related?

Survive. We're both very busy and exhausted, so having real goals seems like more work. Survival is much more realistic.

What is one misconception you would like to clear up?

If we're referencing the misconceptions of disabled people, can we please be uninspiring?! Our existence has nothing to do with the comparative narrative we all seem to live by. Disabled people are human, we exist, fail, succeed, and are pretty boring most of the time. We're not here to "inspire" you to push through, or whatever it is you're looking to do. So ya, let's stop that nonsense.

What is one of your favorite memories with your sister this year?

We hate each other and have no good memories! Just kidding, every memory together is a favourite memory! Kidding again; we can't pick honestly. Most of our late-night talks are usually hilarious, but we never remember them so it's hard to share. Then again, they were probably just funny at the time because were delirious and in desperate need of sleep.

Tell us about your journey in growing your online community and gathering fans!

It's funny because we don't try to put too many goals on growth for The Disabled Life. It's mainly something we do to entertain ourselves. But soon after starting our humble Tumblr page, we started to notice people were entertained by us also! The only difference from then to now is that we moved to Instagram and are slowly creating the TDL Community. Which is basically a hashtag our followers can use to share their stories and experiences; then we highlight their posts on our page.

If you had to start your blog over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing! To quote Tenet, "What's happened, happened."

What do you think the most challenging part of writing a comic strip is?

We've slowly migrated away from making new comics because the task is just plain exhausting. It's time-consuming to write and map out panels to best portray the story in a short and funny way. So, to save on time, we've decided to make new content via the good-old-fashioned written word! It takes less time and is just as funny...or at least we think so.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start their own comic?

Best of luck to you! If you have the energy, make sure you have fun with it. And if you continue doing it for years then you'll be ahead of us. And maybe you can give people advice instead, because we're pretty awful at advising others!

What is your current favorite comic you've created?

The comic "Our Hero" is probably our favourite. Mainly because our cousin had said "wouldn't this make a good comic?" when this actually happened, and we agreed. The funniest stories are the real-ish ones!

Thank you, Jessica and Lianna, for sharing your thoughts. We hope your words may help people carefully consider how they view people with disabilities. You can find the sisters on their website and Instagram.

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