A collection of TED talks for everyone, presented by people with disability. Themes include disability rights, perceptions, accessibility, inclusivity, design and work.
Disability Rights and Perceptions
Four decades ago, Judith Heumann (1947-2023) helped to lead a groundbreaking protest called the Section 504 sit-in – in which disabled-rights activists occupied a federal building for almost a month, demanding greater accessibility for all. In this personal, inspiring talk, Heumann tells the stories behind the protest – and reminds us that, 40 years on, there’s still work left to do.
Stella Young (1982-2014) was a comedian and journalist who happened to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that didn’t, she’d like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Stella talked about society’s habit of turning disabled people into “inspiration porn.”
No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. Never. Smiling at a television screen isn’t going to make closed captions appear for people who are deaf. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshop and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille. It’s just not going to happen. – Stella Young
The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change, and Forbes recognized her in Forbes 30 Under 30. Haben travels the world consulting and public speaking, teaching clients the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Haben is a talented storyteller who helps people frame difference as an asset. She resisted society’s low expectations, choosing to create her own pioneering story. Because of her disability rights advocacy she has been honored by President Obama, President Clinton, and many others. Haben is also writing a memoir that will be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2019.
Yasmin Sheikh is going to challenge your thinking about how society looks at disability. You may feel uncomfortable as you question what you may have thought or said in the past about and to disabled people. At the age of 29, Yasmin had a life changing event which made her see the world completely different. One of the challenges she has faced is that suddenly overnight people saw her differently too. Yasmin will share with you her experiences and how you can build a bridge by including disabled people and see the world through a different lens.
Kanas is a Senior Human Resources Manager working for an international insurance company. She graduated from The University of Hong Kong and later studied aboard for a Master’s Degree in University of Birmingham, UK. Kanas was born with a disability due to a congenital disorder. She is currently an inspirational speaker and has had numerous speaking engagements at schools, where she not only shares about her disability and struggles but also offers a pathway on how she was able to overcome the challenges, it posed. Kanas is a positive thinker and wants to challenge our society’s perception towards people with disabilities.
“Who is disabled? The trials that we face. Why we should be optimistic.” Mark Lewis is most widely known as a libel lawyer, who came to public attention with his work on the phone-hacking cases. In this profound and thought-provoking TEDx talk, he considers society’s attitude to disability and how it should be reformed.
Amy addresses societal perceptions of disability and her vision for how we all change the way we approach disability.
In this talk, Laura Whitaker encourages us to view difference as ability, not disability.
Design and Accessbility
Nearly fifteen percent of the world’s population lives with a disability, yet this massive chunk of humanity is still routinely excluded from opportunities. Sharing her experience growing up with an autistic sister, disability inclusion advocate Meghan Hussey illuminates the path towards an inclusive future in four steps, and it starts with an attitude check on assumptions and stereotypes. Designing a world built for everyone is not a “nice to have,” Hussey says — it’s critical to the fabric of society.
“I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received,” says Elise Roy. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she knows that being Deaf gives her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world — a perspective that could solve some of our largest problems. As she says:
When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.
In this passionate talk, writer and disability rights advocate Kings Floyd draws illustrates the personal costs of society’s failure to implement accessible design, shedding light on the direct link between thoughtful infrastructure and an increased connection between friends, families and communities.
Why design should include everyone, Sinéad Burke
Sinéad Burke is acutely aware of details that are practically invisible to many of us. At 105 centimeters (or 3′ 5″) tall, the designed world — from the height of a lock to the range of available shoe sizes — often inhibits her ability to do things for herself. Here she tells us what it’s like to navigate the world as a little person and asks: “Who are we not designing for?”
What can we do to make workplaces more welcoming to people living with disabilities? Representation advocate Tiffany Yu shares three ways that employers can change and tap into every worker’s skills and gifts.
One billion people worldwide are living with a disability, and too many of them are left unemployed or feeling like they need to hide their conditions due to discriminatory hiring practices, says social innovator and TED Fellow Ryan Gersava. With a focus on healing and disclosure, he created an online school to provide people like him with the technical skills and employment aid they need to thrive. Now he’s calling for every company to initiate efforts to welcome and support those with disabilities, creating a future of work that leaves no one behind.
To increase the employment of college graduates with disabilities, there needs to be a collaborative effort. Delaina Parrish calls on college students, campus recruiters, and employers to share the message alongside her that diversity inclusion is also disability inclusion.
- Making Advocacy Accessible Collection in the Commons Library
- Disability Visibility: Stories and Podcasts
- All about Judith Heumann: Disability Rights Activist
- Insights from Disability Campaigning from El Gibbs and Elly Desmarchelier
- Lived experience
- Movements_Campaigns - People with disability
- People with disability