Over the years, more than 100 amputees have delivered TEDx Talks. Though not as prominent as official TED Talks (which are delivered at the annual TED Conference that’s held in Vancouver every April), TEDxes follow the same format and often pack the same punch. They’re just delivered at local and regional conferences, rather than at the main event. You could think of the TEDx circuit as a sort of developmental league—just as much fun to watch as the real thing, just as full of talented performers, but held on a smaller stage and without a global spotlight.

There are so many TEDx conferences each year that it’s impossible to keep track of them all. So we’re pretty sure you haven’t seen any of the TEDx Talks listed below—all delivered by amputees within the last year. They’re all worth watching for their wisdom, insight, and plain old truth. They’ll entertain you and make you feel smarter. Enjoy.

Stefanie Reid

Who she is: Paralympian, model
Date: December 7, 2019
Location: London
Theme: Accessible Design Is for Everyone
Mini TEDx Talk: “There are two models for disability. The medical model says that if you have a disability, there’s something wrong with you and we want to help you fix that. The alternative is the social model of disability, which says that medical conditions do not disable people. It is the attitudes and structures of society that disable people….[The social model] challenges our perceptions of normal and highlights the fact that we need practical, measurable changes in infrastructure. It is not enough for a person with a disability to simply have a great attitude….I want to propose a new social model of people, where we look at all people—everyone—as reservoirs of potential when given the right environment and the right support.”
Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9KoC8fAojg

Nicole Malinoff

Who she is: Dancer and disability advocate
Date: January 4, 2020
Location: Salem, OR
Theme: Master Innovators—Accessibility In the Arts and Everywhere
Mini TEDxTalk: “‘Inspiration porn’ is this idea that disabled people exist to inspire abled people. It often comes with the notion that disability is something to overcome, which is incorrect. The hardest things we have to overcome are chronic exclusion and inaccessibility….We need to tell our own stories and take ownership of our art. Art goes way beyond self-expression. It’s the meeting of discipline and passion. It’s where we explore our loftiest ideals and our deepest struggles….If the arts continue to exclude disabled voices, we remain invisible everywhere. And you can only value what you can see.”
Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u7DYDZVKu8

John Register

Who he is: Public speaker, Paralympian, military veteran
Date: September 28, 2019
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Theme: Why Tolerance Is Not Valuable
Mini TEDxTalk: “Tolerance in my opinion is hierarchical. Tolerance means I am going to allow you to come into my world, if I so choose, and it’s on my terms and my conditions. It’s all about how I determine you to be for me….When the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, about 71.5 percent of people with disabilities were not employed. [Today] we have ramps, we have curb cutouts, but the employment numbers have not even shifted. Just maybe a half a percent down. Attitudinal barriers still exist because we are tolerating people with disabilities….When we tolerate, we’re seeing people as objects. When we value, we see people as people.”
Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M08l27PzJ8E

Riley Toll

Who she is: Biomedical engineering student
Date: February 13, 2020
Location: Knoxville, TN
Theme: Gaining the Upper Hand—With
Only One
Mini TEDx Talk: “For the longest time, my biggest insecurity was my ‘little hand.’ And because my insecurity is extremely distinguishable…I grew accustomed to hiding my hand in a cosmetic prosthetic hand. I eventually began to believe that I needed to overcompensate for my hand. I fought so hard to prove to the world that I was capable that I eventually lost my own inner sense of accomplishment….I learned the difference between overcompensation and hard work. Overcompensation is a product of doing things for others, and you’ll never be happy living your life like this. Hard work and perseverance are done to please yourself.”
Watch at: https://tedxutk.com/riley-toll

Chantrise Holliman

Who she is: Author, award-winning teacher
Date: September 14, 2019
Location: Chandlers Creek, GA
Theme: How Cognitive Flexibility Saved My Life
Mini TEDx Talk: “We all know the phrase, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ Well, what happens when life isn’t giving you lemons, but she’s throwing them at your head? In the following days and weeks [after my bilateral amputation], I had a choice: I could either quit, or I could flex my cognition and get back to the business of living….What I really wanted was for somebody to come and fix all of this. I was looking for a superhero to come and save me. But I realized fairly quickly that the only person who had the power to save me was me. Life’s trials don’t come along just so that we can give up and quit. Cognitive flexibility was built for those moments. It affords us the opportunity to take life’s lemons and make one hell of a good lemon-drop martini.”
Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOcMNw8G7ls

Jason Koger

Who he is: Actor, speaker, fundraiser
Date: November 8, 2019
Location: Evansville, IN
Theme: Why Just Survive When You Can Thrive?
Mini TEDx Talk: “I found out about these bionic hands on the Internet, and I wanted them. I called my prosthetist and he said, ‘You’ll never get them.’ I said, ‘Well why not?’ and he says, ‘They’re too expensive. They’re $150,000 apiece. Insurance will say no.’ And I was denied multiple, multiple times. But I kept on fighting. I learned from my parents to never quit. I fought for them, and eventually they said yes. And that’s why I became the first person in the world with two bionic hands.”
Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qCix8fEDbc

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