Storytellers Series

The Rooted in Rights Storytellers Series recruits, trains, equips and employs people with disabilities across the globe to tell their own stories through video. Storytellers write, produce and film their stories using smartphones, and tackle disability rights issues like access to employment, parenting rights and de-institutionalization. Check out the videos below and find out more about our Storytellers here.


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A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Disasters do occur all the time, from hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, and many more.  Whenever there is a disaster, we hardly hear disabled individuals mentioned as to whether they were injured or safely escaped.

This is what sparked a flame for Paul Tshuma to look into the measures taken to evacuate individuals with disabilities in case there is a fire in a building.
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Willing to Work

It’s a jungle out there for job-seekers with disabilities!  Wilbert Johnson tells us how he was able to get his dream job and provides tips for fellow job-seekers.

In observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) this October, we encourage schools, workplaces, and communities to consider how they can further career development opportunities for people with disabilities.

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Running Out

Women, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities are all underrepresented in public office. So what if you’re all three of those — is there a place in politics for you?

Carrie Wade discusses paths to success for nontraditional candidates in 2018 and beyond.

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New Disabled Parent Adventures in Advocacy

Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a day where we all celebrate our mothers. But did you know that parents with disabilities are far more at risk of losing custody of their children than non-disabled parents? Removal rates can be as high as 80%. So if you’re someone with a disability who is expecting or is thinking about having children, watch and share this video of our Storyteller, Ivanova, preparing to become a first time mother. They show that with the right supports, people with disabilities can be parents.

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SSI: Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

We all know that managing your money can be tricky and complicated at times. But what about if you are on Social Security benefits programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI?  How do you ensure that you are receiving your money and benefits after you turn 18 and select the best option for your situation?

Watch as our latest Storyteller, Yolanda Vargas, explains the process of how she gained control of her money, gives tips on the different options available that may work for you, and how to approach the SSA.

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Error 404: Accessibility Not Found

Almost everyone knows how frustrating it is when a website won’t load, or when your internet connection suddenly cuts out.  Now imagine that frustration when you know what you’re trying to see is right in front of you – but you just can’t get to it.

That’s just scratching the surface of the importance of internet accessibility.

I’m Maddie Bright, a high school senior here to share about how something so vital to everyday life isn’t required to be accessible.  Yeah, learning that shocked me too.  Thankfully, I’ve got a lot to tell you about how you can make your website accessible.

So join me in learning about our wonderful World Wide Web!  Then, feel free to share this video to help get the word out about the need for an accessible internet for all.

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The Right to Your Graduation

It’s the New Year, and that means we are just about six months away from graduation. Graduation is an exciting time to celebrate all of our accomplishments, but what if you can’t attend your own graduation because you have a disability?

Cuquis Robledo, our Storytellers Coordinator and recent college graduate, is back with a new video about her graduation experience, and with tips on how students with disabilities can advocate for themselves to participate in their own ceremony.

Share this video with students with disabilities and with your local university so they’re students don’t have to go through the same issue that Cuquis did.

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All Signs Point to Change

The International Symbol of Access is suppose to indicate barrier-free areas for all disabled people.  However, the symbol itself seems to be the biggest obstacle for many of us.

How can disability be better represented to broaden what accessibility truly means?

Our Storyteller Hope Hoffman digs into why the wheelchair symbol does not include us all.

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Still Segregated

Blind students shouldn’t have to choose between knowledge and independence – but they are often forced to.  Does this sound like an equal education to you?  Courtney Cole calls out the inequality that blind students face in Washington State and across the US.

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Did Love Win?

Obergefell v. Hodges marked a huge legal victory for LGBTQ Americans. But what if marriage equality isn’t so equal after all?

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The Threatened Legacy of Independent Living with Alex Ghenis

At Berkeley, there is a fight to save the Disabled Students Residence Program (DSRP) that was founded by Ed Roberts.  Berkeley is viewed as the home of the modern Independent Living movement, but students are protesting to retain the programs and services they need to achieve their academic goals.

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Towards an Inclusive Tunisia with Arbi Chouikh

How can a democratic government become more accessible and accountable to citizens with disabilities? Great examples can be found in Tunisia where disability rights advocates have made strong progress since the revolution of 2011.

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A Preflight Announcement with Noah Seidel

Like many of us gearing up for the holiday season, Storyteller Noah Seidel has been traveling a lot recently. Noah uses a wheelchair, and unfortunately, some airlines don’t know how to transport mobility devices. Noah, and others that have had mobility devices damaged or broken by airlines, want you to share your bad travel experiences using the #RightToFly and #DisabledAndFlying.

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Out on a Limb: Insurance Providers and Access to Prosthetics with Emily Harvey

Two million people in the U.S. have limb loss, and every year approximately 185,000 people have a limb amputated. Storyteller Emily Harvey is a disability rights attorney, triathlete, an amputee and is married to a prosthetist. Emily knows from experience how many people struggle to get appropriate prosthetic limbs due to cost and inadequate insurance coverage. Access to health care including prosthetic limbs is a human right.

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The Sagamihara 19 had lives worth living with Mizuki Hsu

The recent massacre in Sagamihara, Japan was carried out by someone who believes that people with disabilities had “brought pain and torture to their family and society.” As a Japanese citizen living with a disability, Rooted in Rights Storyteller Mizuki Hsu was deeply affected. She’s had strangers come up to her and say “your life must be hard” and “how pitiful.” These types of attitudes can lead people to put little value on the lives of people with disabilities. Mizuki wants everyone to know that living with a disability does not mean living in misery. The nineteen people killed in Sagamihara had lives worth living.

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Make this election count with Emily Ladau

Emily Ladau is back with a new storyteller video calling for the campaigns to focus on key issues that affect the disability community no matter what party they belong to. Disability rights are human rights.

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Institutionalized as a Teen with Jensen Caraballo

Jensen Caraballo shares his story of being institutionalized in a nursing home as a teen. Jensen spent over five years living in an institution, and he wasn’t the only one. According to research, more than 200,000 non-elderly people with disabilities in the U.S. reside in nursing homes. Join the fight for freedom of people with disabilities, and support the Independent Living Movement.

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Accessing Employment in Japan with Mizuki Hsu

Mizuki Hsu enjoyed the freedoms of accessibility while she attended college in the United States. Upon returning to Japan, she encountered barriers when applying for work including a quota system that actually excludes people with disabilities, required disability disclosure and inaccessible buildings.

Watch the video now and check out Mizuki’s Moon Rider 7 Project – A Place to Know More About Ability.

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A Mother’s Day message from Emily and Ellen Ladau

Emily and Ellen Ladau share their mother-daughter story in this new Rooted in Rights “Storytellers” video. Both Emily and Ellen have physical disabilities and use wheelchairs. Ellen shares her worries about becoming a parent, and the bias and cruelty she has experienced. They both acknowledge the “bumps” along the way. However, as Emily states, “no one with a disability should ever be made to feel guilty . . . for having children.”

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A Little job advice from Bill & Jen with Cuquis Robledo

When Dr. Jennifer Arnold was a young hospital volunteer, she told visitors that she was planning to go to medical school. They responded, “Oh, why would you go to medical school? Don’t you juggle or play the piano or do some type of entertainment?”

Little People are too often “pigeonholed” into certain occupations solely based off of their size and stature. Cuquis Robledo sat down with Bill Klein and Dr. Jennifer Arnold of TLC’s The Little Couple to discuss barriers and discrimination Little People face when seeking jobs.