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Broadening your perspectives with YouTube – creators with disabilities and chronic illnesses

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The statement that watching videos on the internet can not only be a form of entertainment and an easy way to waste some time, but also a wonderful way to learn, is old news at this point. However, people still often tend to forget that the learning is not limited just to typical “educational videos”. 

YouTube, being an international platform with tens of millions of users every day and hundreds of hours of videos uploaded every minute, naturally has a variety of content created by a variety of people. Some of them live a life that’s very different from what you might know. One of the greatest benefits of that is allowing people from groups that are often underrepresented (or misrepresented) in media, such as people with disabilities, to gain more visibility and talk about their lives and issues. 

For me personally, listening to those voices is very important and I believe it helps me grow, be more understanding and empathetic. That is why, in this article I would like to recommend a few interesting YouTube channels run by people with disabilities or chronic illnesses that I watch and enjoy.

Molly Burke

Molly, with over 2 million subscribers, is a very well known YouTuber, motivational speaker and advocate for disability rights. She was diagnosed at age four with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition which caused her to eventually lose her vision. On her channel she talks about her experiences with blindness, having a guide dog and bullying, but also about fashion, makeup and her daily life and activities.

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

Jessica suffers from multiple chronic illnesses – hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsy (HNPP), Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and migraines. She is also deaf, has impaired vision in her left eye and because of medical complications deals with problems with memory and cognitive functions. Her cheerful videos cover a range of topics including vintage fashion and beauty, disability issues, LGBT issues, history and travel.

Squirmy and Grubs

Squirmy (Hannah) and Grubs (Shane) are an interabled couple. Shane was born with a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy that requires him to use an electric wheelchair. Both Hannah and Shane are advocates for acceptance of all people and work to improve the way society thinks about disability. In their vlogs they talk about their daily life and relationship which, as they say, “many people find peculiar”.

Momming with Migraine

Jennifer suffers from chronic complex migraines, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)/dysautonomia, orthostatic hypotension and Raynaud’s disease. In her videos she talks about life with chronic illness and about her medical alert service dog. She is also soon to become a mom!

Sign Duo

Sign Duo (Ellen and Ryan) are another couple on the list. Ellen is Hearing and Ryan is Deaf. They make casual vlogs as well as informative videos about the Deaf culture and American Sign Language (they also sign in their videos) and as they say about themselves – they’re “showing the world Deaf and Hearing relationships work”.

Hannah Witton

Hannah is a YouTuber, broadcaster and author. Her main content is mostly based around relationships, sex and sexual health, but since she underwent ileostomy in January 2018 due to her chronic illness – ulcerative colitis, videos about disability and life with a stoma bag have also played a significant role on her channel.

Annie Elainey

Annie is a YouTuber, artist and activist for LGBT and disability rights. She first became popular creating content about body image issues and self-love. In 2014 she began experiencing pain when walking and eventually needed a wheelchair to get around. In 2016 she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). She is also autistic and has an autistic sister. The topics of her videos include body image, gender, race, LGBT+, disability, chronic illness and mental health.

I hope you will find something interesting for yourself in my recommendations. Enjoy, learn and spread awareness!

Kornelia Makowska

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