Expressing Myself on YouTube with a Disability

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by Hawken Miller |

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Watching YouTube videos allows me to simultaneously learn something new, laugh out loud, and connect with the gaming community. I never thought I could start a YouTube channel on my own.

With the small number of videos I’ve produced on the platform, I’ve realized this video sharing website is also a tool of expression that doesn’t require physical strain.

This epiphany was long in the making. I was obsessed with the game “Halo: Reach when the title came out in 2010 while I was in eighth grade. One channel, Achievement Hunter, which later became one of the few channels I regularly view on the platform, did a series called “Fails of the Weak.” It was one channel that consistently made me laugh until I cried, and it’s been that way since.


Speaking to the webcam as part of my YouTube channel, Dev Talks. (Courtesy of Hawken Miller)

When it was time for me to come up with a product
idea for my journalism class nine years later, my experience with this video platform was at the front of my mind. What if I combined my passion for journalism with a love of video games and YouTube? That’s exactly what I did when I created my show, “Dev Talks,” where I interview game developers while we play their creations.

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As I produced the series, I found that developing a channel featuring parts of my own personality was both enjoyable and something I could do without a lot of muscle strain. I only need a webcam, internet connection, computer, and me.

Writing has been a great way for me to express my thoughts, but YouTube (or any kind of video) brings an entirely new form of connection with an audience. Seeing someone in person tells a different story than a byline or a photo. All digital mediums have a time and a place, but YouTube is personal. The person you are watching comes alive in front of you.

In the short time I’ve produced YouTube content, my social and public speaking skills have improved. Try playing a video game and having a serious interview with someone. It’s honed my multitasking and communication abilities. And it’s a lot easier to be awkward in front of a camera than in front of people (at least for me).

I recently talked to a middle schooler with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who started his own channel through his mom’s phone. Obviously, it wasn’t a Hollywood production, but it gave him a unique chance to share his worldview with others. Here’s a great example of what someone with Duchenne can do.

I encourage anyone with Duchenne to try starting a YouTube channel. You’ll find setup is easy and the impact you can make online is immeasurable.


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


Danyelle Knapton avatar

Danyelle Knapton

Hi Hawken! Amazing content, thank you so much for sharing your story. It's incredible. I'm supporting a young man with Duchenne's, he's 16 and really wants to become a Youtuber. Do you have any tips or could we somehow arrange a video chat or something between the two of you? It would be great for him to speak to someone who's already doing what he aspires to do! Let me know :)


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