Since its conception in early 2005, YouTube has been pushing the limits of conventional media and handing the proverbial microphone to grassroots creators around the globe. What was once a humble sharing platform for home videos and movie trailers has now given way to a world-stage for passionate people to document their experience of life.
YouTube is also a space for activism, education, and social connection. Entire micro-communities can, and often do, blossom in the comments section of a video, and viewers often credit content creators for making them feel less alone in their experiences.
The nature of online video sharing and community-building makes YouTube the perfect environment for creators with disabilities to share their stories, gain visibility, and encourage education and social activism. There are many wonderful YouTubers with disabilities, and we have compiled a list of eight who are really changing the conversation about disability online.
Victoria Acuña Pakoti
Victoria is an Australian-based disability activist, artist, and film-maker. She draws from her experiences as a biracial woman of color with disabilities to inspire her YouTube videos and art. Her unique, fun, and creative spirit shines through in her activism work and her informative commentaries on life with endometriosis and myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Victoria is a strong advocate against ableism in the community and also produces educational content to help viewers better their understanding of disability and chronic illness.
Victoria publishes her work on both her personal YouTube channel, bickylabiscuit, and her shared channel, Chronicles.
Videos to check out: Over 20 & Never Been Kissed and What Does Endometriosis Mean to Me?
Zach is an award-winning comedian, TV host, public speaker, activist and author (to name only a few!) with cerebral palsy. He gained worldwide attention in 2010 with his submission to Oprah Winfrey’s Search for the Next TV Star competition, and in 2011, hosted Rolln’ With Zach on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
On his YouTube channel, Zach uploads a host of dynamic content including hilarious comedy sketches, vlogs, and his internet travel series, Riding Shotgun.
Videos to check out: Disappointment and Football and 5 Things I Wish I Knew as a Teen With CP.
Annie Elainey is a celebrated lifestyle and opinion vlogger, writer, artist, and disability activist. On YouTube, she films videos about her personal experiences with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as well as insightful and educational pieces on chronic illness and mental health. Annie also uses her channel and social media accounts to showcase her creative work in music, art, and writing. She is an extremely well-respected figure in the online disability community and her creative content is a wonderful source of information, camaraderie, and entertainment.
Videos to check out: The Importance of Visibility for Invisible Disabilities and Think a Thankful Thought.
Rikki Poynter is a passionate advocate for deaf awareness, accessibility, and mental health. In 2016, she founded the #NoMoreCraptions campaign to demand better captions and accessibility in the media for people with disabilities. Rikki also created a Deaf Poynters, a website focused on spreading deaf awareness and advocating for deaf rights. Through this site, she publishes informative articles on deaf culture and personal stories written by members of the d/Deaf/HoH community.
Videos to check out: The Misconceptions About Disability and I’m Mentally Ill.
Molly Burke is a celebrated YouTuber, motivational speaker, and activist with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Her channel showcases a range of topics including lifestyle vlogs, parodies, beauty and fashion, music, and opinion pieces. Molly has collaborated with countless YouTubers in her quest to raise awareness about her disability, including Shane Dawson, James Charles, Grace Helbig, and Lilly Singh.
Videos to check out: The Moments I Realized I Was Going Blind and Mirrorless Makeup: Blind Girl Makeup Tutorial!
Australian YouTuber Robyn Lambird uploads fun and informative videos about lifestyle, personal passions, and the day-to-day experiences of life with cerebral palsy. Robyn also performs stunning original spoken word poetry, shares fashion inspiration, and publishes education disability-centered how-to videos.
As well as her career as a YouTube content creator in the disability sector, Robyn is also a para athlete who competes internationally in wheelchair racing. In 2016, she modelled in an activewear campaign for Target Australia which received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Videos to check out: The Ocean Inside - Disability Spoken Word and Using a Wheelchair Isn’t Giving Up!
Australian cystic fibrosis activist Lauren Rowe of Gifted Life tells it how it is in her comedic takes on life with a disability. Lauren uploads diverse and meaningful Q&A sessions, vlogs, sketches, and educational videos which center on her experience as a transplant recipient with cystic fibrosis. Gifted Life is a local Australian charity with a mission to support and nurture transplant recipients under the age of 30 as well as their family and friends throughout their transplant journey. Both Lauren and Gifted Life work tirelessly to raise awareness for organ donation in the wider community with the goal of increasing donation rates and saving lives.
Best selling author, comedian, and motivational speaker Josh Sundquist had his leg amputated at age nine as a result of his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma. After an impressive career as a Paralympic ski racer, Josh retired from athletics to pursue writing and motivational speaking, and works closely with the amputee community as an advocate.
On his YouTube channel, Josh shares lifestyle vlogs, clips from his motivational speaking events, and entertaining sketches that showcase his comedy and wit.
Videos to check out: What I Do With My Left Shoes and Fake Leg Breaks During First Date.
YouTube’s intricate tapestry of shared ideas, opinions, and stories creates a rich environment for people with disabilities to form bonds with each other. These connections are vital to building communities and reducing social isolation. More and more content creators are changing the conversation around disability by sharing their stories and opinions online.