YouTube has been an extremely popular platform over the past decade or so due to the wide variety of content that is easily available to view. If you’re in the mood for beauty videos, there’s Tati, Jaclyn, James and many more. If gaming is more your speed, you look to PewDiePie or Markiplier for content . Food fiends can turn to channels like Rosanna Pansino’s or Binging with Babish to get their foodie fix. While it might seem like there is something for everyone, there are some communities that are arguably underrepresented on the video platform, such as the blind community. Thankfully, one YouTuber by the name of Molly Burke has realized the need for a representative of the blind community; she has taken on the task of not only being a support system for them, but also educating those who are unfamiliar with the day-to-day of a blind person.
Burke has been visually impaired since the age of 4, when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease of the retina that can cause vision loss. Shortly after her diagnosis, Burke began public speaking about her experience with vision impairment around Canada, her home country.
Growing up, the YouTuber faced many struggles typical for preteens and teens, like bullying, depression and anxiety as she was starting to go blind. Through the triumphs and tribulations she faced, Burke realized that her true calling was speaking publicly and specifically speaking to motivate and educate audiences on living life with a disability.
Burke channeled her love for public speaking and being in front of an audience into a wider platform in 2014 when she joined YouTube and launched her channel. Burke’s channel began like many others during that time of the early 2010s. Her first few videos were challenges, tags and covers of pop songs, like the ALS challenge, the 15 weird questions tag and a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean.”
It wasn’t until 2015 that Burke sat down and filmed a video fully explaining the disease that caused her condition; she was fully met with thanks from those with the aliment as well as those who were grateful to be enlightened about something that they had not known about previously.
As her channel began to take off, Burke began to discuss more openly how she experiences life as a blind individual and all the things that come along with it. She created several “storytime” style videos about dating as a blind woman as well as experiences that have taken place with friends and family. While Burke began discussing her own personal experiences, she also started to allow others to come on her platform and share their stories and what life is like for them.
The YouTuber featured her friend who is deaf and can read lips, which is how her and Burke can converse with each other. They discussed topics like the “blindfolded makeup challenge” and “the whisper challenge” and how they feel as individuals with disabilities, which made for an insightful video providing a new perspective on a popular YouTube challenge. The 25-year-old has also made similar videos explaining her opinions on blind representation in popular culture like jokes in stand-up routines and movies.
As mentioned previously, Burke has struggled with depression and anxiety and has been candid about both on her channel. She began making videos about her personal journey with both mental illnesses and the skills she has learned to help her through her lows and highs in 2016.
She provides tips on how to work on managing anxiety based on what worked for her personally, like keeping snacks on hand to make sure you are eating and going to a therapist or another means of support to talk things out. In a sponsored video with Special K, the YouTuber spoke about her battle with depression during the time that she was beginning to go blind and the epiphany she had: She realized that she could manage her depression by speaking out and letting others know that they were not alone in dealing with their own personal struggles.
While Burke loves to have fun and be vulnerable with viewers, she also is diligent about making sure that she is using her platform to enlighten others on various aspects of being visually impaired. The YouTuber has created several videos on what people should know about having a guide dog and the questions that viewers might have about what having a guide dog is like.
She has also made several videos about an important topic that many people are not very knowledgeable about: what to say and not to say to a blind individual. Some of the questions that Burke says not to ask seem like common sense, while others are something you might not have thought about as coming off as offensive.
At the end of the day, Burke is a 25-year-old millennial woman and she does not let her disability get in her way of doing and being everything she wants to be. Like many young adults, Burke is very into fashion and home decor, and she still enjoys putting together outfits and decorating her spaces.
The YouTuber even goes as far as showing her subscribers how she shops online and in store and picks out what she would like to decorate her apartment with. Burke also enjoys trying out different makeup and hair looks and is notorious for rocking some fabulously vibrant hair. The millennial has a wide variety of tattoos and explains that meaning behind them in a few videos.
While some people may think of fashion, beauty and tattoos as frivolous material things, Burke makes her viewers aware of the fact that there are so many more aspects to makeup and home decor than what they look like.
In addition to receiving major success on her channel with almost 2 million subscribers, Burke has landed ads with major companies like Dove. She has also been featured on various YouTube channels like Casey Neistat’s and Shane Dawson’s. Burke has also featured some notable individuals on her channel like Karlie Kloss and Lily Singh.
In a community that can often be bombarded by only certain types of content, it is truly nice to see someone using their channel to educate and inform while also creating a positive space for like-minded people.