PATTI + RICKY is a new online department store for people with disabilities and was founded by Alexandra Connell.

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This Online Store Offers Functional Fashion for People With Disabilities.

Alexandra Connell created PATTI + RICKY, an online store that offers fashionable and functional products.

It features products from 20 different designers, many of whom live with disabilities themselves.

You can buy fidget jewelry, cochlear implant ear cuffs, braille imprinted products, magnetic shirts, wheelchair-friendly raincoats and more.

“Together all the designers and PATTI + RICKY all want the same thing. We would like for people with disabilities to have options for stylish and functional clothing and accessories.” -Alexandra Connell

On the site’s Meet Our Designers section, customers can learn more about each company and its products.

One company is PunkinFutz, which offers toys and accessories for children with physical, sensory, and emotional needs.

Another design partner is Alter Ur Ego, an online shop which sells jeans and t-shirts designed for people who use wheelchairs.

Also featured on the site is Love Dawne, which has beautiful fidget jewelry in the form of rings and necklaces with small, elegant beads.

Connell hopes to work with more design partners as well as do photo shoots with models who live with disabilities.

To learn more, visit


I remember someone once said to me that my life was very easy. I looked at them with a puzzled expression because I’m not one to complain, but easy isn’t how I would describe my life. I asked them for more clarification on why they would say that. Their explanation was quite simple but extremely surprising to me. My life is easy, according to them, because I have personal care attendant services and they “do everything for me.” This was also said at a time when I was a single mother to my baby daughter after my husband had unexpectedly died. They went further to say that I wasn’t a true single mother because of my attendant care.

I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on the reality of what personal care attendant services are like and the regulations in my state of Pennsylvania. I, and the thousands of others who need personal care, are truly blessed to have services that help us not only be independent, but to be healthy, safe human beings. Without attendant care, I would fend for myself while my husband would be working which means I would go hungry, thirsty and not be able to use the bathroom. I am pretty sure that I would manage to survive, but my quality of life would greatly diminish.

However, personal care attendants aren’t maids that just do everything for you. They’re people like anyone else who work to assist you in what you can’t do. Everyone has a different personality, work ethic, strengths and weaknesses like any employee. But these employees work with you on just being you. They help get me ready, feed me, help with my house and all that comes with it. I live a much more structured life than I might like. If my attendant is coming in at a certain time then I best be awake no matter how badly I slept before.

Communication starts from the minute you wake up to the minute they are done with their shift.  It doesn’t matter if you’re groggy or in a quiet mood because you are the boss. You need to be as present as you would if you’re a boss of any company because the company is very important — yourself. I’m not saying this is all bad, but being a good boss from sun up to sundown can tire someone out. Not to mention that you need to be ready with what you want done that day, how you want it done and able to oversee it being done.

Having a personal care attendant isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity. Being a mother also adds another dimension because it doesn’t just become you and your children. There’s this whole other person who has their own ideas, feelings and thoughts that you need to incorporate into how you handle your child. In a way, you’re always on display. If you’re a single mother with a disability, it doesn’t matter if you need personal care because you’re still your child’s only parent.

Getting and keeping attendant care going smoothly isn’t easy where I live. Every year you are given a certain amount of hours to use and a payroll company handles the paychecks. If there aren’t any problems, this method works great.  However, I’m going through a situation now that is very stressful. My hours for 2017-2018 were approved back in April, but I just found out that the hours aren’t in the system. Therefore, my attendants haven’t been paid and won’t be paid until they are! No one seems to be able to tell me what the problem is, because it has been approved. Tomorrow I will be back at trying to find answers and praying that my attendants get paid on time.

Imagine having attendants who work hard for you not being paid for their job due to no fault of your own. It’s stressful for my attendants and on me because I care about my workers. I am also at risk of losing them because they need money to live.

If you believe people who have personal care attendants have it easy, please think again. We are all just people trying to weave through this life.

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Thinkstock photo by Jupiter Images.

“Trump has been a tragedy to the disability community,” I said over coffee with a friend.

“Now I hate Trump, but that isn’t true,” he replied. Floored, I looked at my able-bodied, neurotypical friend as he continued. “Actually, Trump gave the stage to a disabled girl, Megan Crowley, when he talked about deregulating the FDA, helping your people a couple months ago.” There were so many things wrong with my friend’s statement, including not understanding FDA procedures, but most of all, that Trump helped “my people,” the disability community.

I remember it well, the night Trump paraded around Megan Crowley with Pompe disease. I felt he used her story, her disability, and her identity to his advantage. He honored the time-old tradition of using the disabled as a political tool to give him a better image and get more approval on a policy, which has been utilized by both liberals and conservatives throughout the years.

Trump has the national stage and could have done something like support Medicare and Medicaid expansion, will be investing more money into disability compensation or into increasing accessibility for wheelchairs and canes on public transit… but did he? No. He has done the opposite. And instead of listening to the outrage of the disability community, some have celebrated his “inclusion” based on using disabled people as props.

Honestly, there are pros and cons to loosening the regulations on the FDA, and if he had just done that, I would have been fine. But he made it seem like he cared about us despite appointing DeVos with her voucher program that you have to sign your disability rights away to be part of, supporting private charters that can discriminate against a child with disabilities and not allow them entry to the school; trying to roll back disability pay, cut Medicaid funding, and repel the ACA; appointing Neil Gorsuch, who has a terrible record on disability rights to the Supreme Court. He still hasn’t apologized for making fun of a disabled reporter (and much more).

The disabled community does not want your sympathy. We want your ears, your empathy, and your support to make disability rights an issue politicians will finally take seriously.

Here are some issues I’ve found that many disabled people really want tackled by politicians and American society:

– Combating police brutality against the disabled, since up to 50 percent of people killed by police are disabled.

– Increase employment opportunities, since the unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 10.5 percent in 2016, compared to those with no disability, 4.6 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

– Full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; it is receiving only about 16-19 percent federal funding despite mandating the government fund 40 percent of the services provided for students.

– Close the pay gap! For every dollar a non-disabled person is paid, disabled workers are paid 63 cents.

– Stop making disability jokes and using gestures to simulate a disability.

We look at things like sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism, and almost every person takes those issues seriously. Ableism has been ignored long enough by both liberals and conservatives. Ableism is one of the last forms of socially acceptable prejudice, and it’s time to start taking this issue seriously.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

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Thinkstock image by TopVectors.

Typically, when my daughter receives an invitation to a party, I’m excited. I’m thrilled for her and look forward to having fun together while celebrating a special occasion, usually a birthday. But then a birthday invitation came for a slightly older friend who was having her party at the skating rink.

There are several physical activities I miss doing since becoming disabled – water skiing, hiking and roller skating being a few. And there are times I feel guilty about my lack of ability to instruct my daughter in not only these but other activities (hula-hooping, jumping rope, etc.). Before receiving the skating party invite, I would’ve told you that I would love to take my daughter to the roller rink, but I quickly found this to be untruthful when faced with the reality.

Seeing the invitation, the words “Roller Skating Rink” kept jumping out at me as if mocking me for my inability to participate, to show my daughter how to skate, to enjoy this activity with her. At least, that was my initial perception. I knew I could get on the rink with her in my power chair if the building had a portable ramp, but was wrapped up in anxiety over being stared at and put on display. I worried about my little girl not enjoying herself because of people staring, pointing, etc. I didn’t want to go and be the object of discussion; I just wanted to party at the rink with my kid.

I was explaining all of my worries and stress to a dear friend who listened patiently before saying, “You know, Lylly. If anyone does stare, perhaps it’ll be kids who’ll look at your daughter with longing, wishing their parents were on the rink with them. Or if adults stare, maybe it’ll be because you’re out there with your daughter instead of sitting on the sidelines observing.” Bam! I hadn’t considered that at all!

The day of the party, after acquiring skates for my daughter, I asked to speak to the manager and he put out the portable ramp. She held on to the back of my power chair and we went around slowly so she could adjust to the feel of being on skates. Her little friend, the birthday girl herself, wanted to hang on as well and so the three of us went around and around. We had such a great time!! I forgot all about the other people in the rink and was delighted to be out there with my little one and her friend! The few times I looked at anyone, they were either smiling as we passed them or obviously into their conversations and not paying us a bit of attention.

When I got the invitation, I allowed myself to forget that this life is our normal. Being stared at is normal, at times to the point that we don’t often even notice it (and I tend to notice it more than my 5-year-old anyway). I almost worried myself silly, and if my friend hadn’t helped me gain a new perspective, I would’ve shown up at the party feeling stressed instead of ready to take on the rink.

It doesn’t matter how I spend time with my daughter – it matters that I spend time with her. And we usually have a blast! — just as we did at the skating rink. In fact, it’s on our summer to-do list as a place to return and enjoy one another’s company!

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I am a Disney freak. I am in love with anything and everything Disney-related, so when I  first saw “Descendants,” a movie about the children of Disney villains moving to live with the children of all the good guys in Disney movies, I was obsessed. In the first “Descendants” movie, Mal, the daughter of Maleficent, Evie, the daughter of Evil Queen, Jay, the son of Jafar, and Carlos, the son of Cruella DeVil move from the Isle of the Lost, where all the villains and their kids live under an impenetrable magic dome, to Auradon, where all the good guys and their kids live. They originally plan on stealing Fairy Godmother’s magic wand during the coronation of Ben, son of Belle and Beast, but they all decide to become good and stay in Auradon. Mal even falls in love with Ben and becomes his girlfriend.

The sequel to “Descendants” premiered recently, and from the first time I watched it, I was hooked (Get it? Because one of the new characters is Harry Hook? Yeah, I know it’s a bad joke). And as much as I loved Mal in the first movie, I found her even more relatable in the second movie. These are just 10 of the ways I can relate to Mal:

1. She tries to blend in with the rest of her peers.

Mal doesn’t want people to think of her as simply “the girl from the Isle of the Lost.” She wants to blend in with the rest for the AKs (kids originally from Auradon), so she tries to change her personality, her hair, and her clothes so she would look like an AK. Similarly, I will try to do whatever it takes to try to fit in with the other kids. If it means putting up with that horrible “pop culture” music they listen to, so be it.

2. She gets asked rude and invasive questions by others.

Mainly the press. She gets asked questions like “Ever think a girl like you would be lady of the court?” and “Is your mother still a lizard?” Even her boyfriend, Ben, gets asked, “Did you ever think you’d be with a Villain Kid?” Mal is told to just ignore them (yeah, because that always works). Later, we see a news program in which Mal is referred to as Ben’s “girlfriend from the wrong side of the bridge,” referring to the bridge between Auradon and the Isle of the Lost. Sadly, these are the same types of questions disabled people often receive from the press. I’ve gotten (and heard behind my back) many rude questions from my peers, including but not limited to “Why does she get to type the essay?” “Why do you get to have extra time on the test?” and “How the heck did you do so bad on the physical fitness tests?”

3. Her friend does what’s best for her, even if she doesn’t want it.

When Mal is using her spellbook to the point where she could get in trouble, Evie not only discourages her reliance on the spellbook but takes her spellbook away from her. Mal struggles and fights this and even tries to give her the sad puppy-dog face, but Evie says to her, “Don’t give me that face. Put the pout away. You know I’m right.” This is scarily accurate to what my friends S and J will say when they do or threaten to do something I don’t want to do, but it would be good for me. I will fight so hard when they try to do this kind of stuff, and I will admit to occasionally bringing out the sad puppy-dog face, which my friends also never submit to.

4. She takes on more than she can handle.

Mal tries to go to her classes and make everything Ms. Potts made for Belle and Beast (which, if you haven’t seen the Be Our Guest scene in “Beauty and the Beast,” is a lot!) for Ben all in one day because she wants to appear as if she’s perfect. I will admit that I do this. All. The. Time. Once, I agreed to go to two GS Chorus performances and the longest shift at a cookie booth sale, all in one day. What the heck was I thinking? By the end of the day, I was in so much pain I could barely sleep, so I got no rest and felt like I was run over the next day. If someone asks me to do something or asks for volunteers, you better believe I will say yes. I’m always trying so hard to appear as perfect and play “savior” that I’ll totally forget that oh yeah! I have these things called limits!

5. Some people snap at her and compares their struggles to her.

While Mal is on a date with Ben, he finds out that she has been using her spellbook to make her hair blonde, to study, and to cook a meal for him. He yells at her for using the spellbook, and she tells him it’s been really hard for her lately, and he replies, “Yeah, some things are hard! Do you think learning to be king has been easy for me?” Sadly these kinds of statements can be found often in the chronic pain and disability communities, as well as from able-bodied people. I’ve heard statements such as “Yeah, my back/legs hurt me too” or “Yeah, gym class is hard for me too” many times from my peers, as they try to empathize, even though they’ll never really know what it’s like to live in my body.

6. She tries to appear strong in public but breaks down when she’s alone.

Mal pretends that she’s perfectly OK in front of others, sometimes including some of her friends. In the song “Space Between” Evie, Mal’s best friend says that she “thought that [Mal was] fine.” But once Mal is safely in her bedroom alone, she starts crying, revealing her fear that she doesn’t belong in Auradon. I do something similar, smiling and saying repeatedly that I’m fine while I’m in pain, especially if someone else asks me if I’m OK. I will then withdraw to my bedroom and start crying. I’m trying to let myself open up to my friends more and break this habit.

7. She sometimes snaps at her friends out of frustration.

Mal goes into Carlos’s room to give him something, but as she shuts the door, you can hear the press trying to get her attention. She then paces back and forth and shuts off the TV that’s currently playing the news program mentioned in number two. She is clearly on the verge of a mental breakdown and gets dizzy and nearly falls. Carlos says to her “Easy, girl.” Mal snaps back “What, you think this is easy? You don’t have people taking a photo of you every single time you open your mouth to say boo! Not that I could even say boo!” I admit to doing this out of pain, fear, and frustration to my friends, parents, brother, and sometimes even my teachers. Every time, I apologize almost immediately and hate myself for snapping at them. I wish I didn’t do this, but when I’m in a lot of pain and frustrated and anxious, I’ll sometimes lose my filter and say things I don’t mean.

8. She feels more comfortable around other people in her situation.

Mal finds herself more at ease and less awkward on the Isle of the Lost, surrounded by the children of villains, kids like herself. Likewise, I find myself more comfortable around other people with disabilities. As a matter of fact, almost all of my friends are disabled! I don’t know why, it’s just easier to talk to and interact with disabled people than able-bodied people.

9. She thinks she’s bad for her friends.

When Ben talks to Mal, trying to convince her to go back to Auradon with him, Mal states that she’s a bad influence on him and pushes him away. During a truly heartbreaking moment later in the movie, Mal says to Ben, “I never told you I love you because I thought I wasn’t good enough. And I thought it was only a matter of time before you realized that yourself.” I sometimes find myself thinking in this mindset, occasionally believing that I am just a burden on my friends and that they’d have more fun on trips if they didn’t have to stay with me and make sure I’m OK all the time. I then remind myself that they do this simply because they care about me and want to make sure I’m safe.

10. She has amazing friends who would do anything to help her.

Just like Mal has great friends, I have some of the best friends in the universe. Enough said.

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Photo via Disney.

Google maps is a useful, widely used tool for navigating by car, transit or foot. However, certain routes — those with stairs or terrains incompatible with mobility devices — can be inaccessible if you have a disability. Google does not currently offer accessible alternate routes — something 19-year old Belinda Bradley hopes to change with her recent petition.

The petition’s goal is to persuade Google to add more accessible routes to their Google Maps tool. Bradley, whose mother uses a wheelchair, started the petition after attempting to travel around London for the past year alongside people who live with a range of disabilities. “We found that all routes provided by Google Maps demanded stairs, bumpy paths, small hills, foot bridges, crossings without slopes and many times there was no room on the pavement for the chair, ” she wrote in her petition.

Bradley also points out how very few tube stations are disability friendly — a major issue for people with disabilities who live in large cities. Only 70 of the 270 stations across London are step-free, making it difficult to find a safe and accessible public transit routes.

Oftentimes, Bradley said, her group was forced to travel along bike lanes or travel in the opposite direction of their destination until they found a safe path. “We should be advancing and making sure everyone has equal opportunities to be independent,” she wrote.

Bradley hopes to get 150,000 signatures, after which her petition will be delivered to Google. As of Thursday, the petition is 40,000 signatures away from its goal.

Other apps have already taken steps to offer ease-of-access to people with disabilities. Mayaan Ziv, who lives with muscular dystrophy created AccessNow, which uses crowdsourcing to share accessible spots around Toronto.  Additionally, Jason Da Silva, a filmmaker who lives with multiple sclerosis, created AXSmap so that users can virtually visit a location and assess its accessibility before physically visiting it.

Last month, Google Maps added an accessibility feature that allows users to add information to business listings to let other users know whether a location is disability friendly. Should Google act upon Bradley’s petition, users with disabilities will have safe, easy ways to access these locations.

In an update posted last week, Bradley thanked the petition supporters. “I started this petition on my mum’s birthday knowing that I owed it to her, my family and the millions dealing with these issues to create a movement and change what is an act of discrimination,” she said.

The Mighty has reached out to and Google for comment and has yet to hear back.

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