Disabled man and non-disabled girlfriend create YouTube channel to break down stigma

A disabled man and his non-disabled girlfriend have taken to YouTube to show viewers the dynamics of their relationship, to dispel the stigma surrounding their relationship.

Shane Burcaw, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and is a wheelchair-user, and Hannah Aylward have been together for three years.

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Since starting their YouTube channel six months ago, the pair have gained a following of over 130,000 subscribers, and receive overwhelmingly positive responses to their videos.

Despite this, in real life, Hannah is often wrongly assumed to be Shane’s carer: an assumption the couple are trying to break down.

Speaking in one of their YouTube videos, Shane says: “I just really want to dispel the idea that Hannah is locked here in the apartment with her nurse scrubs on taking care of me… it’s not like that.

“We both have our own lives and that’s what’s cool about our relationship. We are just supporting each other in our own lives and then doing stuff together as well.”

PUBLIC

“Strangers assume I’m not his girlfriend,” Hannah says in the same video. “When people at a restaurant see us acting like a couple, people have come up and been like ‘this just warms my heart, this is so beautiful’.”

Despite the misconceptions many people have about their relationship, the couple describe themselves as living a “fairly normal” life; arguing about which of their favourite sports is harder, travelling to different countries and navigating life together.

When asked about their motivation to start their channel, Shane says:

“It came from the annoyance at how people out in the public are so rude about my disability and our relationship. People will talk slowly to me, they always assume I’m a child, and even when they learn that I’m an adult that can talk, they still direct everything to Hannah as if I can’t make decisions.

“So I think our purpose… was to just show the world that having a relationship with someone that has a physical disability is not like this bizarre, impossible thing. It’s very normal.”

The couple has received solidarity from other inter-abled couples, who identify with the issues they discuss in their videos.

But with thousands of comments on their videos and social media posts supporting them, Shane and Hannah are leaving their mark, and changing the way people view disability and relationships.

If you’d like to check out Shane and Hannah’s videos, head to their YouTube account, here.

*Cover image credit to @shaneburcaw Instagram*

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