YouTube is the new Netflix, rising in popularity as traditional television and cable give way to all things streaming. And since anyone can post a video, it’s extremely accessible for people with disabilities to create their own channels that others can subscribe to.
Following are four of our faves.
Funny Guy Zach Anner
Speak or type Zach Anner YouTube into your favorite browser, pull up the comedian’s channel and try not to laugh.
His current schtick is called “Workout Wednesday” and number 27 in that series, “Surf’s Up” starts out like this, “Today we’re in Nicaragua and since I’m in a wheelchair we’re going to be trying a sport that I’ve only heard about in conjunction with the word ‘accident’ — surfing.”
And what ensues is three minutes of slapstick humor as Anner, who has cerebral palsy, is shown being thrown into the ocean and onto a surfboard while cracking jokes the whole time about the sea, Brook Shields for some reason, volcanoes and of course, the Hoff.
To join Anner’s over 350,000 subscribers, check him out at youtube.com/user/ZachAnner/videos.
Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham
As you’d expect, Fotheringham’s channel has the largest collection of videos of wheelchair users flying through rings of fire, backflipping, dropping into halfpipes, hand-standing and general grinding.
It’s skater culture to show the lands that didn’t stick, and Fotheringham delivers. One spectacular “fail” clip shows him barreling down a ridiculously high, long ramp tagged Nitro Circus. It tilts him back up, he somersaults through the air, the crowd goes wild, he lands on his wheels, but then … well … he keeps somersaulting. Ouch.
WCMX is now an established sport and is still growing. Many of these videos, besides being fun to watch, show techniques as well as the type of gear you’ll need and where to get it. It’s relatively inexpensive to get started, although if you like it, you’ll soon dream about a custom Box Wheelchair. Fotheringham’s channel is youtube.com/user/AaronFotheringham.
Sitting Pretty Lolo
This wide-ranging vlog follows the adventures of Lolo, a woman in her 20s, who was diagnosed with ALS at 14, and has produced some of the most interesting clips on life as a person with a disability.
Some, like “Wheelchair Bumps,” are funny/not-funny looks at such underreported subjects as your chair constantly being jostled while you’re on a date; some share frustrations, such as “Things Not to Say to a Person with a Disability”; and some are downright useful, such as “Top Three Accessibility Hacks at Home.”
“An accessibility hack is a product designed and made not necessarily to be accessible, but happens to be, depending on what you need it for as a person with a disability,” she says, giving the most succinct definition of the term we’ve heard so far.
For example, she uses her spin brush to remove her make-up, as it’s intended, but also to wash her face. “I use a lot less arm motion and it’s not a heavy product so it’s easy to hold in one hand.” For the other two, log on to her channel at bit.ly/2gMjHKU and look for her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well.
“Get busy living or get busy dying,” reads the subhead on Brian Kinney’s YouTube channel, Paralyzed Living. Remember Kinney? He shared his wedding photos and romance with us in February 2015’s “To the Altar and Beyond,” and a year later about the mechanics of sex in “The Ejaculation Affirmation.”
My only complaint — Brian, are you reading this? — is that there hasn’t been a new video since February’s “Abdominal Binder for Higher Level Paraplegics and Quadriplegics.” That video is a good example of the type of practical topic Kinney covers that maybe wouldn’t come up in a NEW MOBILITY editorial brainstorming session, but should. These binders make transfers easier, stiffen up core stability, create a slimmer look and may even help with breathing.
Kinney’s site has 12,568 subscribers and is organized into sensible playlists like, “Travel with a Spinal Cord Injury” and “Home Modifications After a Spinal Cord Injury.” Check it out at youtube.com/channel/UCsj_H-WErsT4PDglcMseatw.