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She knew if she could win, it would be a platform for her to start talking about her topic publicly. Wheelchair New York at which he totally freaked out, and brought nurses in to get autographs.She laughs about the absurdity of this, but she’s fully using it to her advantage. She knows the combination of having a Ph D and also being a beauty queen is interesting to people. I want to change the image of people with disabilities into an image that’s cool and glamorous and chic,” she says.Danielle always loved putting outfits together and shopping. Looking great in public is important to Danielle because “a lot of people have still never seen someone in a wheelchair, so I want the imprint in their mind to veer as far away from the stereotypes of frumpiness as possible.” Danielle is a super in-demand shrink, working with clients from all over the country.Though she works with disabled and non-disabled patients alike, she designed her practice to be Skype-accessible, to make it easier for those with disabilities to come to sessions.She acknowledges that Nordstrom does use some women in wheelchairs in their advertising, but points out that disabled people are a 0 billion-dollar industry and are still virtually ignored.If Danielle has her way, they won’t be for much longer.
Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Danielle works at this both on a micro and macro level. “People listen to me because I’m educated.” And while she’s careful to stress that foremost, she’s a clinical psychologist, she’s also a model-beauty-queen-consultant-activist.On an industry-wide basis, Danielle is changing the way designers think about product design.In a recent talk she gave at Parsons School of Design, she discussed disability and the concept of universal design.“It’s hard no matter what to find a quality man, to find chemistry, and for some reason, to find a guy with a job—even in New York City!” It’s hard, but it’s not only about the disability.