It’s important for people to learn about living with disabilities and the challenges that they can bring, but it can be a boring subject to explain. While procrastinating on YouTube, I came across these three individuals who make videos about their disabilities, though none were actually born with them.
Through their vlogs, they explain their conditions in ways that aren’t overly educational. Besides using entertainment to educate viewers, they also try to normalize disabilities and spread awareness about the various challenges they face.
No matter what the condition is, a good portion of the disabled community benefits from people using social media for this purpose. So, here are three great YouTubers with disabilities who are well worth your time.
1. Drew Lynch
For viewers of “America’s Got Talent,” Lynch should be a familiar face, as his stand-up comedy landed him in second place during the show’s 10th season. During a softball game, he was hit in the throat with a ball, which gave him a concussion that never got better. As a result, he’s been speaking with a stutter ever since. When he’s not doing stand-up, Lynch uploads videos called “Dog Vlogs” with his adorable service dog, Stella.
At first, watching his videos may seem a bit slow because of his stutter, but you get used to it after a couple episodes and enjoy it as one of his quirks. Lynch uses his speech impediment as a subject of his self-deprecating sense of humor, using his ability to laugh at himself to make serious topics fun to watch. And he does actually laugh at his own jokes, which is very contagious.
About half of his videos are about Stella, who I’m convinced is a person in a dog suit. Using his fame and humor, he shares stories about their adventures. Unfortunately, the duo come across many obstacles regarding Stella’s role as a service dog, such as their recent conflict with a hotel manager not letting Lynch check in because he didn’t have papers that certified Stella as a service animal.
Through these stories, he educates viewers about how to treat a service dog (basically, don’t pet it) and all the legal matters that would be boring if told by anyone else. Stella alone is a good enough reason for watching his videos!
2. Molly Burke
When she was 4 years old, Burke was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that involves retina cells breaking down, and she slowly lost her sight throughout her childhood until going completely blind at age 14. You may have seen her in a recent Dove commercial for a new body wash. She posts videos about her blindness, but she also uploads plenty of challenge videos, such as ones in which she guesses the colors of scented markers.
Like Lynch, she makes videos about her service dog, but her channel focuses more on her disability. For viewers who have little experience with the effects of blindness, her content acts as a wealth of information, answering questions such as why she wears makeup if she can’t see it and what she finds attractive in a guy as a blind girl. In addition, viewers get to see (no pun intended) her perspective of the world through the little things in her videos, such as how she understands the color of things through the scented-marker video.
What I like about Burke is that she doesn’t follow the stereotype of a blind person. She often talks about how she lives her daily life and the technology she uses to navigate it, showing how she’s just like a normal person. Her videos are simple and not very gimmicky, so they typically involve her sitting down somewhere, turning on a camera and just talking to you, which makes her relatable, even for a sighted person.
Since she works as a motivational speaker, it’s always a very positive experience watching her videos. And personally, I also like the fact that she’s a bit of a girly girl because it shows that disabled people, including those who are blind, can get glam, which counters the stereotype that individuals with disabilities are not very stylish.
3. Zach Anner
Living with cerebral palsy, Anner makes videos for both his personal channel and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s channel. For the latter, he filmed his hilarious journey to get the famous rainbow bagel. The video highlights the struggles that wheelchair users face. The worst enemy: stairs! Even though he has cerebral palsy, his content can apply to just about anyone with any kind of disability.
Anner’s mission is to advocate for accessibility awareness, but never at one point does he do so in a serious tone, an approach that makes his videos very fun to watch. Whenever he encounters a problem (usually stairs), he uses humor instead of complaining.
The casual tone of his videos gives off the impression that the obstacles are just a part of everyday life, instead of the tragedy that some able-bodied people see them as. As a person in a wheelchair, but not with cerebral palsy, I appreciate the manner in which he portrays these obstacles because that’s how they really are.
Unfortunately, Anner doesn’t seem to have as much of a following as Lynch or Burke, but he deserves just as much recognition. He often collaborates with organizations in order to promote his mission and help others understand cerebral palsy.
These three individuals make pretty entertaining content, but I recommend not doing what I do, which is watching them instead of completing readings for class (or writing Study Breaks articles. Shhh!).
By packaging their messages in a manner that doesn’t even feel like you’re being educated, they not only spread awareness for their own disabilities, but they also spread awareness for disabilities in general, as well as how to treat service animals. With YouTubers like them, the disabled community can gain a bigger voice and help the able-bodied understand them so that they can make the world a more accessible place.