5 Must-Watch TEDTalks That Challenge the Way We View Disability


TEDTalks often challenge us. To think differently. To learn. To be better people. To recognize a problem that needs solving. We’ve seen a handful of talks that do all of the above. But we’ve deemed the five TEDTalks below as particularly Mighty. So if you have some time today, challenge yourself.

1. Stella Young, I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much 

Young, who passed away December 8, 2014, tells it like it is in the powerful TEDTalk below. Listen to her brilliantly debunk the lie we’ve all been told about disability.

I am not here to inspire you,” she bluntly says. “I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability. Yeah, we’ve been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It’s a bad thing, and to live with a disability makes you exceptional. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t make you exceptional.”

2. Caroline Casey, Looking Past Limits

Casey has ocular albinism and spent most of her life fighting against her visual impairment. But through a personal journey, she learned how to reshape her worldview. Her self-acceptance led her to found the nonprofit, Kanchi, which raises awareness about disabilities in the workplace.

“Disability is like the elephant in the room,” Casey explains below. “And I wanted to make you see it in a positive way — no charity, no pity.”

3. Rosie King, How Autism Freed Me to be Myself

“All in all, I wouldn’t trade my autism and my imagination for the world,” King says in the TEDTalk below.

This incredible woman goes on to say how autism shapes her life. She invites others to embrace their differences. King is an activist for inclusion and enthusiastically shares her goal of creating a more tolerant world for people with disabilities.

4. Aimee Mullins, The Opportunity in Adversity 

I had never once in my life looked up the word ‘disabled’ to see what I’d find,” Mullins says in her talk below. This Para-Olympic athlete goes on to explain why she refuses to be defined by her disability. Not only does she make the best of her situation, Mullins uses her disability as motivation to surpass her goals.

5. Sue Austin, Deep sea diving…in a wheelchair

Austin discusses her adventures in deep sea wheelchair diving and explains how these experiences prompted her to see the world — above and below sea level — through new eyes. Austin refuses to be defined by others’ opinions.

I was seeing myself not from my perspective but vividly and continuously from the perspective of other people’s responses to me,” she says in her talk below. “As a result, I knew I needed to make my own stories about this experience, new narratives to reclaim my identity.” 

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