10 TED Talks on Disability and Technology

10 TED Talks on Disability and Technology

TED Talks are talks or lectures that spread ideas. They are usually 18 minutes or less. They come from the nonprofit TED, which started in 1984 as a conference for ideas on Technology, Entertainment and Design. Today, TED Talks cover almost every topic you can think of, from science to arts to business and world issues. They are available in more than 100 languages.

Here are 10 TED Talks on the science and technology helping PWD lead fulfilling lives, and the PWD using technology to grow, thrive and succeed.

Each TED talk linked here is a video with subtitles. If you have a slow Internet connection or you prefer to read rather than watch or listen to videos, there is also a transcript of what each speaker is saying.

Mindy Scheier: How adaptive clothing empowers people with disabilities

Adaptive clothing is clothing designed for people with disabilities, the elderly or anyone who struggles with dressing themselves. Mindy saw how her son Oliver and other people with disabilities struggled with dressing well, looking good and feeling good like abled people. She designed a line of clothing that was not only easy to wear but also fashionable.

Ron McCallum: How technology allowed me to read

Despite going blind at a very young age, Ron McCallum is a voracious reader. In this video he describes the tools and adaptive technology used to help him progress through life, gain an education, and become a lawyer and activist.

Sheila Nirenberg: A prosthetic eye to treat blindness

Sheila Nirenberg speaks on a procedure that can create sight in people with certain kinds of blindness. It involves sending signals from a camera directly into the brain through the optic nerve, bypassing damaged cells in the retina at the back of the eye.

Miguel Nicolelis: A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.

Miguel describes the work that he and his team did creating systems to move prosthetic limbs just by thinking about it. This technology could help people with paralysis walk and move again by connecting signals from the brain to prostheses and exoskeletons.

Sue Austin: Deep sea diving…in a wheelchair

Sue Austin uses her power wheelchair to move, inspire her performance art, and go deep sea diving, where she can drift through schools of fish while floating freely. She believes that by creating our own stories, we treat our own lives seriously just as we would for pre-existing “stories” that may not apply to everyone.

Amos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchair

Amos and a team of engineers at MIT designed the Leverage Freedom Wheelchair that is cheap, easy to build, and works well both indoors and outdoors. It is also easy to handle on rough terrain, making it perfect for PWD in developing countries. In this video he talks about how the wheelchair uses levers for flexible movement, and what he learned while designing it.

Rupal Patel: Synthetic voices, as unique as fingerprints

Speech scientist Rupal Patel is working to widen voice options for the people using computerized devices to communicate, and to engineer a unique voice for every person. Here she explains how it works.

Minda Dentler: What I learned when I conquered the world’s toughest triathlon

In 2013, Minda Dentler became the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship. She shares her life story and the challenges she faced on the way in this video.

Ajit Narayanan: A word game to communicate in any language

Ajit works with children with autism, making technology to help them communicate. This includes AAC apps, and his FreeSpeech app. FreeSpeech helps people, both nonverbal and verbal, to communicate across languages.

Henry Evans and Chad Jenkins: Meet the robots for humanity

Chad Jenkins and his team on Robots for Humanity, which uses robotics to help PWD live life to the fullest. He is joined by Henry Evans, who uses telepresence to gain mobility and take the stage as someone paralysed by a stroke.


Brian H. (2015) 8 Most Powerful TED Talks on Disability [Accessed: 15 Dec 2018] Available at: https://101mobility.com/blog/8-most-powerful-ted-talks-on-disability/

TED Conferences LLC (2018) TED Talks (search: disability) [Accessed: 15 Dec 2018] Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks?page=1&topics%5B%5D=disability

TED Conferences LLC (2018) Our Organisation [Accessed: 15 Dec 2018] Available at: https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization