Voices I Love: Content Creators with Disabilities

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cartoonish graphic of a man in a wheelchair holding the hand of an able bodied woman with two corgis in the grass in front of them
Image by Pixabay user elf-moondance

Something you might not know about me is that I'm passionate about disability rights & inclusion. I attribute so much of my interest in these topics to Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, z"l, my late mentor, who died in 2018. 

In 1999, Lynne sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury when her Jeep skidded on black ice. And though medical issues plagued her for the rest of her life, she went on to become a noted disability rights activist, turning the worst moment of her life into one of its biggest opportunities. And in 2007, I started working with her at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. As a legislative assistant, my portfolio of legislative issues focused on civil rights — including disability rights.

I worked for & with Lynne on a variety of issues, & I have amazing memories, in particular, of celebrating the passage of the ADA Amendments Act together. I have, ever since, cared deeply about disability rights, accessibility, representation, inclusion. This year, as I try to read more books by people with physical disabilities, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite content creators.

A quick note: Most of these people are folks I've followed for a while, & I want to say up front that this list is not diverse enough. I know that, & there's no excuse for it. I try to follow people from all kinds of backgrounds, especially people who are different from me in a variety of ways, but in assembling this list, I realized that I am not following nearly enough disabled creators of color or from the LGBTQ+ community. I will work to change that (& would love your suggestions!) 

Without further ado... here are some of my favorite creators with physical disabilities, for your following enjoyment.

Alex Dacy

Better known as Wheelchair Rapunzel, Alex is a  model & a body positivity advocate who has spinal muscular atrophy, which causes muscle loss. She can be a little raunchy for my tastes, but that's also part of what I like about her. She's smashing stereotypes of what's expected from women in wheelchairs & all women with disabilities, your taste level be damned

Follow Alex: Instagram / YouTube

Ariel Henley

Ariel is a Jewish writer with Crouzon Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes the bones in the head to fuse prematurely, causing facial differences. She & her twin sister are the first known pair to survive the disease, & now she talks & writes about growing up different & being "ugly." She's also written a memoir, coming soon. 

Follow Ariel: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Carly Findlay

I've followed Carly, an Australian appearance diversity activist, for a really long time, & I'm currently reading her first book. She has a genetic skin condition called ichthyosis form erythroderma, which causes dry, scaly, red skin, & she uses her eloquent voice & powerful writing skills to speak about inclusion, privacy, children with disabilities, & more. 

Follow Carly: Instagram / Twitter / Blog

Catarina Rivera

Catarina, a DEI educator who is both blind & hard of hearing, calls herself a "disability stigma smasher." She shares Reels, images, & captions designed to educate, elucidate, & generally help the public to better understand the ableism. I haven't been following her for long, but I've found her content to be engaging, interesting, & helpful. 

Follow Catarina: Instagram / Facebook

Charlie Kramer

Charlie & I have a lot of real-life mutual friends but only recently started following one another, & I love his Reels about life with a progressive visual disability. Having recently become legally blind, he left his job as a Jewish musician/educator to become a full-time disability speaker, coach, & digital media creator, sharing content that helps others to better understand & dismantle ableism. 

Follow Charlie: Instagram | Website 

Emily Ladau

Emily is suuuuch a good writer, & although she hasn't blogged in awhile, I'll forgive her because she was busy working on her first book, which finally came out this year! Born with Larsen syndrome, which affects the development of her bones, she's also the host of a podcast called The Accessible Stall &, fun fact, she appeared on Sesame Street at age 10.

Follow Emily: Twitter / Instagram / Blog / Website

Hannah Setzer

Hannah is an adaptive fitness professional & an adoptive mother who was born with a rare disease called cystic hygroma. She believes in movement for all bodies, not for weight loss but for wellness, & for people of all abilities & disabilities. And she makes some killer Reels on Instagram, both educational, adorable, & occasionally hilarious. 

Follow Hannah: Instagram

Joseph Bird

Joe, a British model & gym rat, seems to have a prettttty big ego about how fit & good-looking he is, but you know what? I like that. Disabled people aren't often portrayed as attractive or sexual, & this guy's abs are killer, so get it, Joe. I love watching him bust stereotypes about people with disabilities & show how he tackles the physical challenges of his cerebral palsy. 

Follow Joe: Instagram

Keah Brown

Keah, a pop culture aficionado & journalist, created the viral hashtag #DisabledandCute, which caught on immediately & remains popular. She's also a memoirist who writes extensively about her life with cerebral palsy, including her relationship with her twin sister, who does not have the condition. 

Follow Keah: Instagram / TwitterWebsite 

Melissa Blake

Melissa is a freelancer with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone & muscular disorder, who I first met in a Facebook group for writers. She's since gone viral many times for her essays on everything from dating to disability representation in pop culture to disability politics, & she's never afraid to clap back at people who say terrible, ignorant things online. Follow Melissa: Twitter / Instagram / Blog

Pamela Rae Schuller 

Pam is a friend & former coworker who, as a teen, had the worst-diagnosed case of Tourettes in the country, as well as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; she's also 4'6". These days, she's a national disability rights advocate, youth educator, & stand-up comedian who teaches inclusion through laughter & self-advocacy. She is incredibly smart & funny, both online & IRL. Follow Pam: Twitter / Instagram / YouTubeWebsite

Shane Burcaw

Shane & his wife Hannah became famous for their YouTube channel, Squirmy & Grubs, where they talk about navigating & managing life with Shane's Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease that causes severe muscle weakness. Shane is the author of two memoirs & is super funny while powerfully educating people about inclusion. Follow Shane: Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

Books

I thought I'd wrap up by sharing a few books I've loved, some of them written by people on this list. I've either read or am currently reading all of these unless otherwise noted. 

Annnnd there you have it, some of my faves. Who else should I be following? What else should I be reading? I'd love your recommendations, & if you start following any of these folks (some of whom have become my friends), I hope you enjoy their voices, content, & stories.


2 comments:

Kelly Jensen said...

Alice Wong! She's an incredible voice, period, and her disability work has been so helpful for me in better understanding myself and being a better ally-accomplice.

San said...

Thank you for sharing this list. I also try to follow a diverse group of people but sometimes it takes being introduced to them to be able to add more diversity to your own feed. So, thank you.

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