YouTubers with Spinal Cord Injury
Sharing the daily challenges of life in a wheelchair online
Anyone can open his own YouTube channel. Only a few steps are required, then anyone with internet access can comment on our training units in the gym, follow our culinary tips, observe our life or simply listen to what we have to say. The first video was uploaded on the platform on April 23, 2005; since then every day 400 hours of content are published per minute. Therefore competition is fierce. Especially around common topics such as make-up, fitness and video games.
However, in the jungle of videos in which one seems to be the identical copy of the other, there are channels that examine popular topics from a different angle. There is one thing in particular that people in front of the camera have in common: They are in a wheelchair. This does certainly not limit their determination, on the contrary: They are able to relay messages of positivity, strength and mutual support. Not only people with the same issues benefit from them but all YouTube users. The internet is indeed a prime resource to convey messages that make people more aware of the challenges associated with para- or quadriplegia. Here are four examples of women in a wheelchair who have succeeded in tackling the daily challenges and in sharing their determination with other users.
Jordan Bone and Stephanie Aiello: Make-up artists despite quadriplegia
After a car accident, the lives of Jordan Bone and Stephanie Aiello have changed drastically. Quadriplegia, however, is not the only thing that connects them. Indeed, both of them have always been so passionate about make-up that they have been sharing it on YouTube. The difficulties with holding their equipment seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle for starting a professional career. Therefore neither one mentioned their disability initially.
After many rude comments below her videos, the Englishwoman Jordan Bone published this moving video in which she shows the enormous difficulties she had with putting on make-up in the first years after her accident. Her decision to make her disability publicly known has not harmed her career: Today her channel has almost 200,000 subscribers and over 12 million views and she works together with big beauty brands.
Also Stephanie Aiello from California hesitated to show her challenges as make-up artist with quadriplegia. In 2016, however, Aiello was encouraged on stage by supermodel Tyra Banks at a beauty festival in Las Vegas to no longer hide her limited hand function from her followers. Ever since Aiello is no longer scared to show her hands in her videos.
What stands out in Aiello’s video are her enthusiasm and determination – characteristics that have also driven her to become captain of the Rollettes Wheelchair Dance Team (see also this blog article about wheelchair dance on the Community). Here is a video of one of their performances:
Fitness with Tiffany Adams
Since 2008 Tiffany Adams motivates the subscribers of her channel "wheelyfamous” with videos about fitness and nutrition specifically for wheelchair users. Adams is very well known in the US; she was part of the TV show “Good Morning America” and won the Wings for Life World Run four years in a row. In 2012 she participated in the reality show “Push Girls”, a show about the life of four women in wheelchairs.
Gem Hubbard: Everyday life of a woman in a wheelchair
The British Gem Hubbard is certainly not afraid to tell us about herself: After she had opened her channel “Wheelsnoheels - Gem Hubbard” she collected over 22,000 subscribers and almost 2.5 million views in three years. Her videos cover numerous topics: life style, beauty, diaries – so called vlogs – as well as tips for everyday life and being parents in a wheelchair. In March 2018 Hubbard gave a presentation for TEDx Talks:
Do you also follow wheelchair users who share their passions on YouTube? Have you ever thought about getting in front of the camera yourselves?
[translation from the original Italian blog post]