‘What’s Wrong With You’ podcast shines a light on real and raw barriers faced by disabled community

Stuff has recently launched its latest podcast series, What’s Wrong With You? The series explores the physical and social barriers that disabled people live with every day, and a world that’s not always accessible. 

What’s Wrong With You? (WWWY) is presented by Stuff digital producer Olivia Shivas and Paralympian Rebecca Dubber, and produced by entrepreneur Grace Stratton. As disabled women, they created the podcast to challenge the prevailing narrative around how disabled people are perceived and portrayed.

The mission of the podcast is the share authentic stories, says Stuff digital producer Olivia Shivas.

“So many stories we see about disability are from the perspective of nondisabled people for a nondisabled audience. But we want to not only educate non-disabled people but also have stories that disabled people can resonate with through funny and confronting but kind storytelling,” she says. 

These stories cover topics such as relationships, childhood, travel, self-image and religion through the lens of the disabled community. The community faces barriers erected by abled-body people, often without consideration, so WWWY also explores attitudinal barriers that we don’t hear about as often.

“While most minority groups face attitudinal barriers, people with disabilities often face both physical and attitudinal barriers. When we were trying to find a studio to record at, we enquired with seven studios around Auckland before finding one that was fully wheelchair accessible,” says Shivas.

The podcast series itself is a first-hand insight into the mental and physical barriers and experiences that our disabled community goes through on a daily basis.

Related Article: Henrietta Bollinger: Disabled dating and the shit she is tired of hearing

Olivia Shivas. Photo Credit: Jason Dorday/Stuff

Through her research on the topic, Shivas says she was spurred by her desire to showcase a diverse range of voices in the disability community. 

“I fully acknowledge my experience of disability is unique because it’s impacted by lots of outside influences such as family and upbringing. From this podcast, I’ve learned a lot from other disabled people who have different backgrounds which goes to show there are so many different viewpoints you can gain from listening to the community.”

WWWY is one of the only New Zealand-centric podcasts covering real stories from our disabled community. Shivas says this can come back to the negative and often medicalised lens on disability from the media. 

“Disability is not really a glamorous or sexy topic to talk about. But from my experience and many of our podcast guests, it’s something that has enriched our lives, even if we are disabled by the environment around us because the world is not designed for our success,” she says.

What’s Wrong With You is a fantastic way to start educating yourself about disability, and those living with it. The series makes you rethink your privilege of something as simple as walking up the stairs or going to someone’s house for a first date.

“There is a lot people can do to support WWWY’s mission,” says Shivas. “If you’re planning an event, make sure the venue is wheelchair-friendly. Design your website with accessibility features in mind, such as closed-captioning on videos and having alt text for image descriptions. We can all play a part in making the world more inclusive and accessible to disabled people,” she says. 

What’s Wrong With You is available on Stuff’s website – You can find it here.