Face To Face: Challenging the “Better Dead Than Disabled” Message

Two video projects led by people with disabilities, one in the U.S. and one in Canada, are challenging the mainstream message that it’s better to be dead than disabled. We all know that personal stories are often the most effective forms of communication, and that’s exactly what these projects offer in face-to-face communication.

The U.S. video project is called “Live On!” and is led by Dominick Evans through the Center for Disability Rights. Our readers were first introduced to Live On! through its video produced in response to the Me Before You film and disability rights protests. While the initial video included many faces, subsequent pieces will be short 3-4 minute takes by an individual with a disability.

If you would like to learn more about the project or consider submitting a video, here’s a message from Dominick with what you should know:

The #LiveOn project is a way to send the message that disabled lives are worth living, and for disabled people to be proud of their disability. The #LiveOn project is loosely based upon the It Gets Better campaign, which sent the message to LGBTQIA individuals that life is worth living, and it is okay and important to be proud of who you are. We would like to give a similar message to people with disabilities.

Our target audience is anyone with an acquired disability or progressive disability, individuals with mental health disabilities and/or suicidal ideation, young people who may be angry about their disabilities thanks to bullying or abuse, and anyone with a disability who may be struggling, depressed, dealing with internalized ableism, or who might be thinking about giving up on life. Disabled people do not often receive suicide prevention when they show signs of wanting to give up or have suicidal thoughts. With very little disability representation that is visible and positive, living life with a disability can often seem daunting and lonely.

So, you may be wondering how you can help. We are asking anyone with a disability to make a video for the #LiveOn project. The videos are directed at our target audience, and will feature disabled individuals explaining how times can be rough, but things can and will improve. Life with a disability is not only worth living, but it can be quite fulfilling. Feel free to talk about a difficult time in your life, and how you were able to move past that, and don’t forget to discuss how much disability pride you have, and how being disabled is an important part of your identity.

Here are the video guidelines:

  • Videos should be filmed in vlog style. This means you talk directly to the camera as though you are talking to the target audience.
  • Keep videos around 3 minutes in length.
  • Introduce yourself and say what your disability is at the beginning of your video.
  • Add in the #LiveOn message by trying to work in the expression “Live on” near the end of the video.

DO NOT UPLOAD YOUR VIDEOS TO YOUTUBE. Put the videos in Dropbox or use Google Drive to send the videos in .mov or .mp4 format.

Please send all videos to: liveonprojectcdr@gmail.com


The Canadian Project is well underway already, led by Catherine Frazee and others. As reported in New Mobility, Project Value Asserts Disability Is Not Worse Than Death:

A group of Canadians are out to testify that there’s so much more to life with a disability than one of “suffering that could last decades,” as recent media coverage would have you believe.

Project Value is founded by five prominent members of Canada’s disability community meant to counter act the narrative that disability is a fate worse than death through a series of videos by people with disabilities testifying to how truly fulfilling and exquisitely varied their lives are.

“There is more, much much more, to our lives than misery, helplessness, and pain. We want to counteract the dangerous effects of those stereotypes and the prejudice that they fuel, by projecting the energy, vitality, resilience and contribution of disabled people’s lives,” says co-founder Catherine Frazee, a 62-year-old professor emerita and professor of distinction in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto who has spinal muscular atrophy type 2. . . .

In addition to the New Mobility article, Project Value has received mainstream press coverage here and here, among others. A number of very powerful and moving videos are already posted, with more to come in this important effort.

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