When Izzy Keane was a little girl in Ireland, she would decorate the wheels of her wheelchair for special occasions. When her sister Ailbhe (pronounced Alva) Keane was in her final year at the National College of Art and Design, she designed a project around Izzy’s wheels—stylish, waterproof wheel covers that, like clothes, can be chosen and changed for fun and self-expression.
Now the sisters have a Dublin-based company called Izzy Wheels and are working with internationally-known artists, illustrators, and fashion designers like Orla Kiely, Bodil Jane, Supermundane, Maser, Okuda San Miguel, and Camille Walala. This BBC Amazing Humans video shares how they’re transforming wheelchairs into fashion statements and celebrating them as a “friendly object rather than something purely functional,” especially with people who might not know anything about wheelchairs. On Ireland’s The Late Late Show, Izzy explains:
“It’s the best conversation-starter ever because it just means that neither one of us is awkward. My disability and my wheelchair are such a big part of who I am. I know it’s there, the person I’m talking to knows it’s there. Why ignore it? I don’t want it to be something that makes a barrier. I want to break down the stigma.”
Watch more videos about art, wheelchairs, fashion, and finding solutions to challenges, including these: The Rolling Dance Chair, an omnidirectional, hands-free wheelchair, This Invention Helped Me Write Again, and Tents that turn into jackets: Humanitarian fashion by designer Angela Luna.