Jennie Harrell's story helps us understand who to include in "design that's usable by all people."

And not just in Angier, North Carolina, but anywhere.

Emily is my twin sister. We’re both 34, but we’ve lived very different lives. Because Emily is mentally disabled, she has had far fewer opportunities than I have had in life.

At first glance, Emily does not appear to be different at all. She is kind and social, but when she’s in conversation her differences become apparent. She reads and communicates on about a first grade level. Even ordering at a restaurant is difficult, and she requires help from a family member, which sometimes embarrasses her.

Emily’s favorite things to do are to spend time at our family’s horse barn, caring for the horses and the chickens. She bonds with animals, and I know it makes her feel good to take care of them. She also loves to cook (especially chopping and prepping food).

I think it would be so valuable to have more opportunities for people with similar disabilities to have the chance to pursue their passions with others in their communities. Emily would be so thrilled to be part of something where should could feel “normal” like everyone else. She is such a sweet person, but not many people push through the awkwardness to give “different” people a chance to become a friend.

Location: Angier, North Carolina, United States