On November 3, 2018, Emilee and Hannah Schevers decided to share their story with the world.
Emilee, 17, is legally blind. Hannah, 14, has a facial difference and is single-sidedly blind and single-sidedly deaf. The sisters wanted to give others with disabilities a platform to share their journey, so in November 2018, they created Tru Faces.
It began as an Instagram page (link here). Each sister posted a short video to describe her disabilities. With a smile on her face and auburn hair swept into a ponytail, Hannah describes her Goldenhar syndrome and why you might need to speak a little louder when you talk to her. Emilee, who sports a sweater that says “Brunch. Nap. Repeat.” explains that because of cone dystrophy, she doesn’t see colour or distance and has light sensitivity.
Emilee and Hannah began to follow and feature other people with disabilities on the Tru Faces account. Take Alicia, for example: an 18-year-old YouTuber with sight loss; Nancy, 52, who is a model and leg amputee; or Hartley, 9, who lives with intestinal failure and has raised over $40,000 for Sick Kids hospital. It didn’t take long for other Instagram users to notice the page and ask to share their story too.
Emilee is a CNIB ambassador and works at Lake Joe, a CNIB camp for people living with sight loss.
“We want people to stay true to themselves and embrace who they are,” Emilee says, explaining why they chose the name Tru Faces.
Tru Faces is growing as a brand and community. Emilee and Hannah also have a YouTube page (YouTube link here), which hit a milestone of 100 subscribers in mid-July 2019. They share videos which include their shopping trips or book reviews, a rant about the annoyances of living with sight loss, and promotion for Deafblind Awareness Month.
The pair usually films using an iPad and Emilee uses a program called Splice to edit the footage. The inspiration and tech know-how came easily, Emilee says, given that they love using social media and following other YouTubers.
Emilee and Hannah consider Tru Faces a campaign and haven’t monetized it up until now. They give presentations (at their former elementary school or summer camps, for instance) but generally do that for free. However, their most recent project is selling t-shirts. The t-shirts say “Tru Faces” and have the word disability printed on the front with “dis” crossed out. On the back, symbols of different disabilities are shown.
“We both had a disability of some kind and lived in the same household. We had support from each other,” Hannah says. “When we got connected to the blind and low vision community, it strengthened that support even more.”
Right now, the two ladies don’t know what Tru Faces could look like five years later, and that’s okay; they’re busy changing society’s perception of disability for the better. They run goal ball at school, which is an accessible sport; they ran a booth for White Cane Week at school and they’re even planning to design a website.
Emilee and Hannah are building doors where barriers used to be.