There are so many incredible disability advocates highlighting the challenges faced by people living with disability and the need for accessibility in our society. Here are some of our favourite disability advocates doing fantastic work in sport, comedy, the arts, social media, politics, urban design and more!
Madeleine Stewart is a Sydney-based comedian, producer and writer as well as a lifelong disability advocate. Madeleine is the producer and creator of Sydney’s first accessible comedy club: Crips & Creeps. The monthly-run show provides a platform for comedians who face marginalisation due to disability, gender, sexuality or race. The show was also designed with audience accessibility in mind, including Auslan Interpretation, a hearing loop, a chill space and full wheelchair accessibility.
Madeleine’s Instagram @miss_madi_cakes
Crips & Creeps Comedy Show Instagram @cripsandcreeps
Ellie Cole is not only a childhood cancer survivor, but with 17 Paralympic medals she has well and truly earned her title as the most decorated Australian female paralympian of all time. After having her leg amputated at 3 years old due to a sarcoma cancer, Ellie took to the pool as part of her rehabilitation process and progressed incredibly quickly, marking the beginning of her career as a paralympic swimmer. Since retiring from the pool, she has been a passionate speaker and advocate for inclusivity and diversity in sport and just about everywhere else!
One of the most body positive disability advocates is Annie Segarra, who identifies as disabled, queer, and Latinx. Much of her advocacy work takes the form of combating the ableist language that infiltrates the body positivity movement so that people with disability can be included. Since the body positivity movement emphasises shifting the focus away from aesthetics and towards functionality, Annie argues that this idea excludes people with disability because it suggests that people should only love their bodies if they are typically functional. Follow Annie’s work as a speaker, writer and creator as she continues to advocate for accessibility and body image among those living with disability.
Jordan Steele-John is both the youngest Australian senator in history and the first person with a disability to sit in the upper house of parliament. Jordan is fiercely passionate about the importance of diversity in the government. Jordan states that since Australia is made up of people from so many different backgrounds, that level of diversity should be reflected in parliament.
Dr Victor Pineda
Dr Victor Pineda is an expert on building inclusive and accessible cities, focusing on how the layout and design of a society affects people’s quality of life. Dr Pineda was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child and has required the aid of a ventilator 24 hours a day since this diagnosis. The importance of building accessible cities to address the needs of all people living with disability became a key interest and top priority. Today, Dr Pineda shares his findings on an international basis as a speaker and consultant.
It’s important to remember that disability advocacy is not only about successful individuals with an audience. Instead, these individuals help bring into the spotlight the challenges that all people who are disabled face. Every person living with disability is important, valuable and should be respected, platform or no platform.