I share a lot of “Accidentally Adaptive” things here, but I haven’t shared many (any?) actually, purposely adaptive products. It’s not that I don’t want to, but more just that I don’t actually have that many. Of course, I have some of the more medical things – a shower chair, toilet chair, etc. – but otherwise, I have very few.
It’s mostly because a lot of the adaptive style products are either kids sizes, and while I can fit them, they look incredibly young, or they are adult sized but even the XS they offer is way too big on me. Adaptive products – especially clothes or shoes – tend to be more expensive, and don’t have the wide size ranges that typical retailers do (because the products are more expensive to make and the profit margin is smaller). But! I recently found a brand of actually adaptive shoes that I love – BILLY Footwear!
So, the cool thing about BILLY shoes – the thing that makes them adaptive – is their zipper design. While most shoes either slip on, lace up, or zip up the side, these shoes zip around the top. Basically, the whole top of the shoe zips on three sides, so you can lift the top of the shoe up like a flap and just set your foot in the shoe. Then, you put the flap back down and zip the three sides back up. It’s super easy to do, and makes putting the shoes on and taking them off a breeze.
You may wonder what is so hard about getting on and off a pair of shoes! Obviously, this differs between every disabled person, but for me, it’s all about the weak muscles on my feet. So while most people can slide their foot into a pair of shoes no problem, when I have someone slide my foot into a shoe, it doesn’t really slide easily! Instead, my foot starts to curl up on itself – it just won’t stay flat. So it tries to go into the shoe like a little ball. Obviously, I can make it work with some shoes, but there’s often a lot of baby powder involved!
I especially would’ve appreciated these shoes when I was younger! I wore ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs) when I was young, to try to keep my ankle muscles from turning inwards. They’re plastic, basically like a removable brace for your foot – mine went from my toes to maybe halfway up my calf. They’re not nearly as thick as a cast you have for a broken bone, but they do add some thickness, and they take away flexibility, too. So shoes were incredibly challenging when I wore those – both to find a cute pair that fit with them, and to get them on side my foot / ankle couldn’t bend when I was wearing them at all.
Even now, as an adult, the concept of a zip-around shoe was incredibly appealing to me. I wanted to try them out in a low-pressure way at first, so I went with slippers – I figured that if I didn’t love them, at least I’d only be wearing them in my house, not out in public! But I’ve been wearing them for a few months now and I’m such a fan. They are exactly as easy to get on as they promise.
The slippers are incredibly comfortable, too! The faux-fur lining is nice and soft and warm, but never gets caught in the zipper. I actually think I could get away with wearing them out of the house, too – they’re cute enough to look like a slipper – moccasin hybrid. And they definitely keep me warm inside.
And a fun fact for sizing – in general, there’s some overlap between kids and adult sizing. A girls size 2 is equivalent to a womens size 4, girls 3 is womens 5, and so on. I actually bought the girls version of the slippers, but they come in womens, too. They have so many other shoe options, too – I’m excited to try a pair of cute quilted sneakers next, I think! I love how many different styles, colors, and sizes they have – kids and adults, mens and womens, and so many different options to choose between. A lot of their shoes are even available on Amazon! I love the BILLY understands adaptive shoes can be cute and stylish, too!