These women are using their platforms to empower women with disabilities and show that they are just like everyone else. The CDC reported that 61 million people are living with a disability and 1 in 4 are women. The National Center for Disability and Journalism also reported that over 6 million people living with a disability are Black.
While it is a large community, disabled people are still rarely represented in the public eye. But thanks to these influencers, that is all sure to change soon. From Hollywood actress Lauren “Lolo” Spencer to everyday moms like TaLisha Grzyb, women are using their social media to speak up for those who are just like them and show the world that they also matter.
TaLisha Grzyb is a wife and mother of four living with muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a disease that causes muscle weakness and muscle loss, which impacts mobility. Due to her diagnosis, TaLisha is someone who uses a wheelchair. She also documents her day-to-day life through her YouTube channel Rolling Through Life with TaLisha.
TaLisha shared her experience as a mom with a disability in an interview with Yahoo! Life. “I think the biggest misconception is that we are just out here having kids and expecting other people to raise our kids or do things for us,” she said. “People feel like maybe we don't deserve to be moms. As long as you're present and you're active and you have great intent and a great heart, anyone deserves to be a parent, let alone a mother.”
“I feel like that is a part of my purpose on this earth to kind of empower people and let them know — don't let anything stop you."
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer stars in HBO’s The Sex Life of College Girls and is an advocate for people with disabilities. After being diagnosed with ALS in high school, Lolo decided to pursue acting. In an exclusive interview with xoNecole, the actress shared what it’s like working with a disability.
“As a person with a disability, employment is incredibly hard to find. If I’m not mistaken, less than two percent of the job market are people on record saying that they have disabilities," she said. "I just didn’t like the feeling of someone being in control of my livelihood because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find another job.”
Its DEAF! 😤 lmaoooooooooo 😂 #fyp #tiktok #signlanguage #deafworld #foryoupage
Nakia Smith is a popular TikToker who uses her platform to teach others about BASL (Black American Sign Language). The Dallas, TX native, whose sign name is Charmay, comes from a five-generation family of deaf people and her videos show how she communicates with them.
In an interview with The New York Times, Nakia explained the difference between American Sign Language and BASL. “The difference between BASL and ASL is that BASL got seasoning,” she joked.
Keah Brown was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child and she dealt with bullying from other kids. As a Black, queer woman, Keah has found herself in between two worlds and is trying her best to navigate both of them.
“In the Black community, we don't talk about disability and if we do, it’s within the realm of jokes, making light of something, or using us as punching bags on the internet," she said in an interviewTODAY. "Then you have the white disabled community who doesn't talk about queerness or race or sexuality. It is exhausting sometimes because ... It’s hard to feel like I really belong in any place.”
Haben Girma is the first deafblind student to graduate from Harvard Law School. As a human rights lawyer, Haben fights for others with disabilities and she is also the author of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. She has continued to push boundaries and most recently shared that she is learning how to surf.
“Before my surf lesson in Santa Cruz a guy called me inspiring, then came back later to apologize for 'interrupting' my weekend,” she wrote on Instagram. “Honestly, learning to surf as a Deafblind person involves a variety of challenges before I even enter the water. To the guy who 'interrupted' my weekend to express joy at seeing me at the beach, thank you! Adaptive surfing is tough and I’m grateful for all the encouragement I can get.
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