Two sisters who use wheelchairs are putting their own hilarious, honest spin on what it's like to live with a disability in their series of comics, called The Disabled Life. Jessica and Lianna Oddi told Refinery29 that they've been artists for most of their lives, so when it came to starting their blog, it made sense to use comics to tell their stories. "Lianna was drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil, and naturally, being her younger sister, I copied her," Jessica told us via email. "We always loved to doodle comics, so when it came to starting The Disabled Life blog, it was sort of a natural fit. It’s how we tell stories, and it seems more expressive than just writing."
Thus came the comics that document what the sisters describe as "the jerks and perks of living #TheDisabledLife." "We base most things off our own experiences," Lianna explained. "Sometimes it may be exaggerated, but like 90% of it actually happened. Other times, we want to cover a certain topic, so we create a specific scenario to describe it easier."
Both Jessica and Lianna were diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 1 at birth, a disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. However, their diagnoses are currently being re-evaluated after a medical specialist noticed they didn't completely fit the mold of SMA type 1's effects. "We actually started seeing our specialist for a completely separate medical issue for Lianna," Jessica said. "When he met us, he noticed we don't show typical signs of someone with SMA Type 1 (like the fact that we're still alive with relatively good lung function)." For now, their diagnoses remain unclear, and both sisters are undergoing testing.
Their comics have gained popularity for resonating strongly with fans, and it's no surprise. Not only do the Oddis draw inspiration from their own lives, but they've also asked followers and fans to submit their own experiences of living with disabilities — and they've turned those stories into comics.
"To be honest, it really started as a way to share our personal experiences in a funny way," Jessica said. "But as it continues to grow, our underlying goal is to help make disabilities a common topic. It’s 2016; we can all talk about diversity, share our thoughts, and treat everyone like human beings!"