About Molly Burke:
At just four-years‐old, Molly Burke’s world became a little bit darker: she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare retinal disease causing loss of vision. Despite this, and the ensuing obstacles and hardships she faced, it wasn’t long before she began bringing light into the lives of others. Molly began public speaking at the age of five as an ambassador for The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada. Since then, she has inspired hundreds of thousands with her story.
Over the years, as Molly’s vision deteriorated, her confidence and optimism only strengthened; but not without struggle or adversity. As a student she was tormented by bullies, and struggled with depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until she found the strength to face her challenges, and the courage to reach out to others, that she came to find her purpose – bringing hope to others Read more on Molly’s About Page and be sure to check out her entire web site MollyBurkeOfficial.com.
AT&T Experience More is an innovative social project that celebrates how blind/low vision individuals Experience More – through their actions, passions, use of technology and more.
Join us in the movement and share how you, a friend or family member Experience More using the hashtag #ExperienceMore. Check out our video and podcast series showcasing some extraordinary individuals and their ongoing pursuits to Experience More as well as our commitment to accessibility.
You can find out more about the #ExperienceMore Campaign on the web.
Aira’s goal is to develop leading technology and services that help remove remaining barriers for the visually impaired, expanding their possibilities to live with greater confidence and independence.
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See complete transcription below.
AT&T and Aira Present: Molly Burke – YouTuber and Motivational Speaker #ExperienceMore
Advocating for yourself is number 1, and making yourself your biggest priority.
You should care about you more than anybody else cares about you.
AT&T and AIRA present Molly Burke.
I always want to prove, not to others but to myself that blindness has not stopped me from achieving the goals that I set out for myself.
Part of the hashtag Experience More campaign.
I believe you are only limited by what you tell yourself.
you’re only limited by your own thoughts and your own disbelief in your self.
It’s an amazing thing that AT&T is doing, and AIRA, because it’s not often that big commercial companies thinks about our community.
Brought to you by AT&T and AIRA, and produced by the Blind Abilities team, and now, here is your host Pete Lane and Jeff Thompson.
Welcome to Blind Abilities, I’m Jeff Thompson.
And I’m Pete Lane.
Today we’re speaking with Molly Burke.
Molly, welcome to Blind Abilities.
Ahh, thank you, I am very excited to be chatting with you guys today.
Glad you could make it, it’s our pleasure, believe me.
Molly, you are such a public personality, your story is so widely known, you have almost 200,000 YouTube followers, probably as many over on Facebook and Twitter.
Can you review briefly what your story is, your lifetime, how you were diagnosed with your blindness, and then bring us up to the present day?
Absolutely, so when I was 4, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa.
Essentially that caused me to lose the majority of my vision when I was 14 and in grade 8.
And that was a very very difficult time to be dealing with this because I think that that age is a really tough age for most people, just because your dealing with puberty and hormones, and discovering who you are, and your own taste in clothes and music and all of these things, and all of a sudden everything that I was discovering changed.
And I ended up going from being a pretty, you know outgoing, bubbly popular kid to losing all of my friends and struggling with really severe depression.
So it was quite a journey.
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing because its led me to where I am today and I’m really happy with where i am.
That’s great, and your story involves some serious bullying and you have a very heart wrenching story about a particular episode where you were bullied in high school.
Can you share that with our listeners?
So the year that I lost my vision, grade 8, you know adapting to navigating the world in a new way, I ended up tripping down the stairs and really badly injuring my ankle and ended up having to use crutches.
And so now I couldn’t really use my cane very well, I couldn’t use my guide dog and I had to leave her home and the school said that they would assign this group of girls to help me, you know help guide me around school.
And, one day at lunch when they were supposed to take me to the cafeteria, instead they decided to guide me into a forest.
And once we got to the forest they took my crutches and they started you know, rolling them in the mud, squishing bugs with them, getting them really dirty, and then ended up actually breaking one of them, and leaving and going back to class without me.
And I found myself you know, in this forest, couldn’t see, couldn’t stand on my ankle to walk and I was completely isolated so luckily I had my cell phone in my pocket, they had actually taken my backpack, so thankfully my cell phone was in my pocket that day, and I was able top call my Mom and she immediately came and got me, and I ended up deciding that day with my family to finish the rest of grade 8 from home because it just didn’t seem like a safe environment for me.,
What a horrific experience.
And then you returned, as I understand it, you returned to another public school?
Or did you go to a blindness related school then?
I went to the school for the blind for grade 9 and 10 to gain the skills that I needed and then after that I transitioned for grade 11 and 12 to a local high school that had almost 3000 students, and I was the only blind one or only visually impaired one.
You know I really tried all the systems, I switched schools 5 times, between bullying and looking for the best accessibility.
Did the Catholic system, public system, private system, school for the blind, so we really tried them all.
Yeah you did.
Molly, you talked about depression and mental illness on one of your videos.
Yeah, I really struggled with mental illness when I was in grade 8 so, with depression and self harm, suicidal ideation, and then later on in my journey I went on to experience generalized anxiety and PTSD.
Molly, mental illness is not something a lot of people like to talk about, especially their own mental illness, but you seem to come right out and talk about it?
You know, I am just a really open person.
Some would say I don’t have a filter.
My friends can easily be embarrassed by me and I’ll say things, and people are like surprised, and I’m like, oh was that weird to say?
Like I just don’t even know that there’s things that people are uncomfortable talking about because to me I’m just like, well why not talk about it?
Like it’s something I live with and other people live with it you know, 1 in 5 people have mental illness, and 1 in 3 woman have mental illness, so I am like, why not talk about it, like what’s so embarrassing?
What’s so uncomfortable?
So you know, for me I’m just an open book, I have no filter, I’m just very comfortable in talking about these things that I don’t see a reason in not being because I think it’s important.
Yes it is.
Good for you.
So Molly, you are completely different person, well may be you’re not a different person, but that little girl who lacked confidence, who fell deeply into the depression, and suffered from the bullying and what not.
That does not seem to be your persona today.
How do you think you overcame it, and, or did you over come it?
And are we seeing the true Molly now?
You know, there’s things that blindness changed in me.
And there is things that it could never take from me.
I have always been a very bubbly, outgoing, high energy type of person, very friendly, I love meeting new people, I love going on adventures and trying new things.
I love make up and I love fashion, and glitter and all these things.
And, you know going blind, it temporarily pulled me down, but i don’t think it could take away who I am.
You know I always tell people, especially people who are newly diagnosed and facing the vision loss ahead of them is blindness doesn’t change who you are, it just changes how you do some things.
You know a lot of people, especially on my YouTube page where I talk about make up and fashion, are really confused that, how I love something that is seen as such a visual thing as a blind person, and I’m like, because it’s who I am.
his is who i would be if I was still sighted so it’s who I am now.
It’s not going to change me, it’s just going to you know, may be temporarily pull me down, but you have to find a way to rise above those challenges because the reality is, if you can’t change something in your life, the way I can’t change that I am blind, your only option is to accept it and move on.
Living can’t be done when you are wallowing, and you are depressed, and you are living with regret, and in anger.
You can’t live like that way.
So I wanted to live, I wanted to be myself and to move on and find passion and happiness, and it was a long journey.
There’s no like quick easy fix.
There’s no magic button to push and be recovered.
Recovery is a journey and it’s ongoing, and there is so many things that contributed to my healing but I think that at the end of the day, I am who I am.
And blindness just, it tried to hold me back for a little bit, but I was going to beat it.
And it looks like you did a really great job.
Now Molly, you talked about glitter.
Glitter is good.
Make up, make up is always and interesting topic from a blindness perspective.
Can you give us a little bit of Molly perspective on make up?
Yeah, I love make up, I love fashion.
So as soon as I started kind of wanting to get into wearing make up, my Mom took me to a cosmetic store and had them pick out all of the right colors and products for me, and teach me what goes where.
From then on, like I was 12 years old at the time and it’s just been a love ever since.
I have a disgusting amount of make up at this point really.
Now I pick out most of my own products, I still have somebody at the store help pick out like foundation and concealer shades to make sure that I’m matched correctly.
But other than that, like I’ll buy my own eye shadows, I research online, I watch reviews on YouTube and listen to what the girls have to say before I make my decisions on like which colors to I should buy of lipstick, or what products I should try.
I’ve kind of developed my own way of putting on make up, and I think a lot of blind girls figure out their own different techniques that work, but I figured out my way and it’s not fool proof, I still sometimes end up with eye shadow fallout under my eyes, or mascara blobs on my nose, but my Mom helps with that which is great.
Yeah, I mean, make up is like art to me, it’s art that I can put on my face.
It’s accessible art because I don’t have to see the canvas, I can feel my face and that’s my canvas.
There you go.
Well tell some of the mechanics, I think our listeners would very much be interested in how you apply the make up.
How do you coordinate the colors, not only of the make up, but of the clothes and things like that, do you have particular techniques, or tricks that you use?
So for my make up, anything like eye shadows, if I have multiple eye shadows that are the exact same like container, I braille label them so I know like which is which.
And so that’s how I pick and then in terms of like my blush, my eye shadow, my lipstick, making sure tome wise they all coordinate, that’s where like watching the reviews to hear when people are like, oh, like Sable eye shadow from MAC is a brown with some undertones, so it’s cool toned, and then, Mulch by MAC is the exact same color brown, but it’s red under toned, so it’s warm.
And so then I know, Ok, I am going to pick up Sable today because I want to go for a cool tone look, and then I pick up cool tone blush that I know is cool toned, and I continue to like build like that for a look.
So I guess I kind of combined watching a lot of reviews and reading a lot of blog posts about different make up products, braille labeling things, and always, like my entire make up collection is organized.
Everything sits in the same spot in the case all of the time.
I never move anything.
When I pick it up, it goes right back to the same spot, and then just combining my knowledge and understanding of make up, what looks good, what doesn’t, what colors go together, what doesn’t.
And it is the same for fashion, I, I don’t label any of my clothes but what I do is, when I buy new clothes, I memorize something that is defining about that piece.
So with jeans, I might memorize the pattern of the stitching on the back pockets, and know that that pattern means they are my dark washed skinny jeans.
Or I might know that the ones with the rips on the knees are my light washed skinny jeans, that kind of thing.
And then again, just based on my knowledge and understanding of fashion and trends, I am able to pull pieces from my wardrobe based on the tactile feedback they give me, and memorization.
I see it’s more than just green, red, yellow, blue then?
Yes I have a stupid amount of clothes and make up, such a girl, I’ll go shopping any day I can and so, it’s a lot of clothes to sort through to find outfits but I love it.
Well you seem to have your system down.
Molly, can you tell us a little bit about your hosting career out there AMI on television?
Yeah, I used to host two of their television shows.
I hosted “AMI This Week” and “ATW Weekend Edition”.
I left hosting back at the end of March, but they didn’t make any kind of official announcement so people will still Tweet me be like, “When are you going to be on the again?”
I’m not, but like I will always step in if they need me, if they need somebody to step in hosting but, my schedule was just getting way to busy with speaking and YouTube, and the show, you know, the show was two full days of my week.
And for all January, February, and March I was working seven days a week with no days off for three months straight, and I, as a result was like extremely sick, and could not get better, like whatever we did, I couldn’t get healthy because I continued to work seven days a week, and not giving myself any rest.
So I knew that something in my schedule had to give and unfortunately because AMI was taking up two full days, I felt like that was the thing that needed to give.
So I am not hosting for them anymore but as I mentioned, if they ever need me I’m, they know that I will step in and I really loved working with them, they were great.
You know I’m happy that now my career is going well, and I can help provide a job for another blind person to take that position.
You know, I don’t want to hog all the jobs!
Obviously, you know, there’s not that many, there’s unfortunately a lot of blind people unemployed so if somebody else can take that position, i am happy that they have it.
Your public speaking, how often do you speak, and what type of messages do you convey?
You it totally depends on the month, there is really really busy months and there is really quiet months.
There is really, you know when it rains it pours, and then there is a drought.
That tends to be how it goes in this industry.
I speak at all sorts of different events.
I speak to a lot of middle schools, high schools, universities, corporate conferences and events, leadership stuff, diversity conferences, I speak a lot, I basically use my story to send different messages.
So it depends what the event is about, what my client wants the audience to take away from it.
You know I can use my story and create a message of over coming obstacles, or accepting yourself, or believing in yourself, or finding support, reaching out for help, whatever, whatever the event is about and what they want from me, I can just take my story and pull certain messages or certain themes out of it.
But one thing that is definitely a huge part of my story in every presentation I give is the idea of hope.
We all have hope inside of us no matter how dark your situation feels, you can find that hope.
I know when you have nothing else, hope can get you through because it has for me on multiple occasions.
And you know there is things that helped on my journey like seeking therapy and working on my nutrition, and physical health through fitness, and spirituality, and all of these things helped me.
Bu when I had nothing, hope was it.
That was it.
And so, I really want to share that, because that is something that anybody, anywhere, in any background can find in themselves is the hope.
Hope to carry on.
Now Molly, you are a guide dog user as well?
I am, I have been a guide dog user for more than 10 years which is so crazy.
Does this dog still weigh more than you?
He does, he is a very big man.
He’s half bernese mountain dog so I promise he is not fat, he is actually very fit and very slim, but he is just a very massive dog.
This is Gallop, right?
Yeah, Gallop, like a horse.
His head is so ridiculously big, like people everywhere we go, people will be like “Wow, that’s a horse, not a dog!”
And I am like, his name is Gallop, so yes he is my horse.
And I always wanted a guide horse, a miniature guide horse when I was growing up because I thought that was so cool, and so when I got Gallop my parents where like “Be careful what you wish for, your guide horse.”
And you are so tiny, that probably amplifies the size of Gallop right?
Yeah, I’m tiny.
I’m four foot, ten, and a half.
i am the size of the average Canadian 11 year old.
Molly, can you tell the listeners, probably a lot of people out there who are cane users, and good cane users, but they always question that idea about getting a guide dog.
What process did you go through and what advice would you have for someone?
Getting a guide dog was my entire motivation to become a good cane user.
As soon as I started taking O and M I was about 8 years old when i started doing O and M, 7 or 8.
And was a full time cane user like a year later.
The only way they could get me to commit taking O and M lessons and working on it using my cane was to tell me that you know, you could get a guide dog as young as 13, and I was like, all right, you planted that seed, I’m getting a dog at 13.
And I did, that was my whole motivation.
I went to the MIRA foundation, which at the time was the only school training guide dogs for children.
It was more of an intensive application process through MIRA than it is through most schools because they are giving dogs to children.
They really need to make sure that you are O and M, you know on point, that you are very good, that your auditory skills are there, that you’re mature, you’re independent, your lifestyle suits it.
So I went through a big process with them of kind of different evaluations and what not up at the school, and then at the end of kind of four day evaluation, they told me that I was approved to go back in July and get my first dog.
And so I did, and what i love about MIRA is they don’t prematch, which I believe they’re the only guide dog school I’ve ever heard of that does not prematch.
So I actually got to be a part of the decision process of picking both of my dogs which I loved.
Oh that’s quite different.
Yeah, that is quite different.
Yeah, so with Gypsy, my first dog, I worked with three different dogs before I decided on Gypsy, and with Gallop, I worked with five different dogs before I decided on Gallop.
And at any point, you can switch.
So with Gallop, when I went to get Gallop I had actually originally picked a dog who I called Milo, and Milo wasn’t working out after about two days, so we switched and I took Gallop.
Molly, I’ve heard you say your height, you are four foot, ten and a half, and that half inch does matter.
And now especially when you got the dog the size of Gallop.
He is a big guy, a lot of people can’t believe that such, they gave such a small girl a big dog, but I mean, I really don’t think it’s just about like, our height matching up, there’s so much that goes into the perfect match.
It’s personality, it’s lifestyle, it’s walking speed, it’s temperament, all of these things play such a huge roll.
Far more than his height vs. my height.
It just means that I have short amount of his handle, and I actually love it because when i walk with him you know, most guide dog users, when they are holding the handle and they are walking, there is a gap between the dogs back and where they are holding the handle.
My hand actually just rests on Gallop’s back while we walk.
Which also means that if he is not on harness, but I put my hand on the part of his back where his harness lays, he’ll guide me.
Because he knows the sensation of me resting my hand there means I need him to help me.
Yeah I think it’s the perfect match and honestly I would never want a small dog, I see some of these, some of my friends with like these tiny labradors as guide dogs, and I am like, oh my God I could never, because both my guide dogs, you know Gallop is half bernese mountain dog, half black lab, and Gypsy was three quarters bernese mountain dog, one quarter lab, so she was also very big.
And so that’s what I am used to now and I feel very safe, as like a petite woman living you know, and traveling in cities, I like feeling so safe with my big dog.
And I would imagine that personality and temperament was absolutely critical because your lifestyle involves constant traveling, right?
And constant public speaking, and being in large crowds, and I would think that being a calm moderate kind of personality would be very important for a dog.
Exactly what they looked for.
They looked, they knew like my life is crazy, and so they really looked for a dog that is up for anything, super easy going, very calm, very gentle, and because of my personality, I need a dog that is going to respond to correction really easily because I’m really soft on the dogs.
I’m really you know, I’m a very gentle loving person and I needed a dog that was like very snuggly and very loving and really sweet, and that is exactly what they found.
He’s a giant, he’s a huge black dog that looks scary, but oh my God, he doesn’t bark, he doesn’t jump, his paws have never left the ground.
I have had him for over three years.
He doesn’t bark, he doesn’t jump, he just wants to sleep and snuggle all the time, and he is cool with every situation I have thrown him into.
He literally, anything I put him in, he just falls asleep.
He just like “Oh okay Mom, wake me when you need me.”
Like he is just so chill, they totally nailed the personality for what my life needs.
I’ve seen some videos in the recent weeks and months of how you handle your dog while traveling, while flying on a plane, constant traveling, and everything from how you handle the dog poop, to how do you prepare your dog for long flights and things like that.
Is that kind of a new experience for you, the constant traveling?
No I’ve been traveling like this for about five years now, so I’m very used to it and Gallop, it’s really all he has ever known with me, from the time I got him three years ago, this has been his life, but I really started wanting to share that with people more, you know, videos like how I pick up my dogs poop is something I never thought I would make.
But some people ask, so many people are curious and they know that I’m a very honest open book and I’m a safe person to ask.
And so I, I was always kind of feel like I might be the only blind person that they ever meet or that is ever going to be willing to answer this for them, and so I am going to do it, because i would rather people know the facts, than assume and be wrong.
And that is really great because my wife has a guide dog and I experience the airports all of the time.
For people who are, for students, let’s say high school students who are faced with the challenges of vision loss, transitioning to college, or transitioning to the workplace, what advice would you have for them?
Well I never went to college or university, I transitioned straight to the workplace when I was 18, I moved out on my own into downtown Toronto, got my own apartment with Gypsy my guide dog, and started work as a motivational speaker, traveling the world, so my experience is kind of unique because my job is very unique.
I think advocating for yourself is number one, and making yourself your biggest priority.
You should care about you more than anybody else cares about you and you should know what you need better than anybody else knows what you need.
You need to speak up for yourself, you need to advocate, and you need to be good to yourself and do what you need to be healthy, and safe, and successful.
Now, getting your own place, now that’s a big step for even people who are going to college or university, but going to the workplace, or breaking away from their home.
What was it like when you first got your own place?
You know, i am very much a dive in deep person, I don’t kind of half way anything.
I decided that in ten days I wanted 5K marathon and I don’t run, so…
So in ten days, we’ll be running, but that’s kind of my personality, i just, decide I want to do something and i jump right into it, so yeah for me at 18, that would four years after most of my vision loss occurred, I was like, why not get a bachelorette pad downtown Toronto in a big city, and move out on my own with my dog, and start a brand new hectic career.
That sounds really fun!
Now I am actually getting an apartment in Los Angeles in West Hollywood and I am going to be moving from Toronto all the way, six hour flight away from any family and living out there on my own, so…
And your folks are going to stay in Toronto?
Yeah my Mom will probably come out for the first month or so to help me settle in and get, you know, so some O and M, get some safe walking routes, find my different places that I need around me, and then she will probably, my Mom and Dad will just go back and forth to visit me.
But yeah, I’ll be living out in L.A. on my own.
So Molly, I’m from Minnesota, so when you are in Los Angeles and get settled in there, I’ll send you down some snow this winter.
Ahhh, no thanks!
That’s why I am leaving.
I don’t need any snow, I’ve had 23 years of it.
What are you going to do in L.A.?
You know I figured my job can be done from anywhere in the world so why not do it from the city I’ve always dreamed of living in.
I told my parents when I was five years old I was gonna live in L.A. and it took me 18 years but I’m doing it.
I’m the type of person I always want to prove not to others but to myself that blindness has not stopped me from achieving the goals that I set up for myself, that five year old Molly, she needs to achieve this dream, she needs to do it, and so I’m doing it, I’m just gonna go, I’m diving in hopefully gonna be out there by December, January.
Molly, Pete gave me a call and said “Hey I think Molly Burke is on a Dove commercial”.
I think Dove asked me to try out this body wash because I’m so in tuned with my hands and how things feel to me.
I really navigate the world by touch.
When I pumped it out I was like, oh now this is different, the foam was really light, fluffy, weightless, and it feels really moisturizing, not sticky.
I’ve never tried anything like this as a body wash before.
How about that yeah.
That was an amazing experience, it’s actually so funny, my aunt was just telling me that she somehow, cuz I don’t know if you guys have seen kind of some controversy about the Dove ad right now?
The new Dove ad not mine but their newest one, it’s silly but people are freaking out about it, and so my aunt was reading kind of people’s opinions and then somebody brought up, how, did anybody see how Dove was like taking advantage of the blind community and disabled people by using this poor blind girl in their ad, and there was like a hundred comments of people being like, I know the poor girl, and then somebody commented was like, for those who might not know, Molly Burke is a very successful motivational speaker and YouTuber and if she’s in this commercial I assure you she willingly chose to do it.
She is not being taken advantage of, that’s correct.
She is not being taken advantage of.
I’m like do people realize like I was paid, like this was this was work, I was paid I auditioned, five, I did five auditions, signed a lot of contracts, did three 13 hour filming days, and got paid for my work like I wasn’t being taken advantage of, this was a part of my job.
That doesn’t sound like a poor blind girl?
Right, like I’m like, it was so funny to me that anybody would even think that .
You go girl, that’s right!
And we need more representation of disability by people who are actually disabled you know, the few disabled characters you’ll see on TV from now and then have officially been played by able-bodied actors and therefore, promoting the stereotypes and misconceptions, and perpetuating those, and now finally in the past few years we’re starting to see a little bit of a shift in seeing more disabled people being portrayed on television, and being played by disabled people which is great.
Now are you thinking that maybe, maybe some of that might come your way while you’re in L.A.?
I mean I would love it to, I took acting classes for ten years, I took stage performance and improv for ten years, from five to fifteen, and did a little bit of television acting courses in between there as well so, acting has always been like a love of mine, and so I would never say no.
I mean I work in the entertainment industry now, I perform in front of a camera, that, and videos get posted online, and I perform on stages as a speaker, so I’d like to think that maybe I’d get to be able to do the more traditional media.
Yeah, well good luck on that, that’s the place to do it, that is definitely the place to do it.
Molly it just seems that your lifestyle fits the hashtag Experience More?
Yeah, pretty much, that’s exactly how I like to live, do what I can’t you know, do what everybody has ever told me I can’t do.
AT&T and AIRA have joined together as partners to promote the hashtag Experience More campaign, and as you know Molly, this interview is being brought to everyone by ATT Experience More and AIRA.
So what’s your concept?
What’s your feelings about the principle of eExperience More, talk a little bit about that.
Well first off I want to say I think it’s an amazing thing that AT&T is doing, and AIRA because it’s not often that big commercial companies like an AT&T thinks about our community.
I think it’s amazing that they’re doing that and I’m honored to get to be a part of this campaign and work with them.
I think it’s important for everybody blind or not to experience more, but I think unfortunately, oftentimes blind people do feel like they are limited.
I believe you’re only limited by what you tell yourself, you’re only limited by your own thoughts, and your own disbelief in yourself, but if you believe in yourself, and you want to do it, you can go out there and do it, you can experience it all.
That’s well put, very well put.
Well and AT&T and AIRA are joining together and they’re visiting a number of cities across the United States to talk about their Experience More campaign, and their products and the accessibility of those products.
So you can check on the website which is experiencemore.att.com and you’ll find a schedule of those cities and when they’ll be there and what personalities they’ll be bringing along, so be sure to go to that website and check it out.
Definitely worth attending if you can I think.
You can find that link in the show notes as well as the one Molly’s gonna tell us right now on where to find her YouTube videos.
Yes you can check out my YouTube videos at youtube.com/MollyBurkeofficial, or just search Molly Burke on YouTube in the search bar, that’s just M O L L Y B U R K E official, and there’s over 200 videos, so lots of binge watching if you’re ever bored.
Yes and you have the choice to select between videos, favorites, and channels, and I went right to the channel and you have your own channel with as I said earlier almost 200,000 followers.
I have a question Molly do you know the composition of your following on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, are they predominantly sighted folks do you know, or predominantly blind viewers, what would you think?
Unfortunately it doesn’t give you a breakdown in analytics of that, but I do know I have a very strong following of blind, visually impaired, people, or their friends and family members, parents of babies who have been diagnosed, that kind of thing, and a lot of teachers, doctors, nurses, I have a lot of people within the disability community in general, a lot of mental health people, a lot of people with mental illness follow me, but then I also just have a lot of people in general who want to learn, who want to be open-minded, who have always been curious about blindness.
I’m their token blind person here to answer all the questions.
It’s really a huge mix of people that follow me and that’s what I think is so cool.
I think a lot of people with their YouTube channels can get boxed in to being a beauty channel, and ages 13 to 24 females watch them, whereas with me when you look my analytics, it’s so diverse, the age groups, the gender breakdown, everything is really wide, so I like being able to build a really open community of an assorted group of people.
Molly, there’s one video I remember I watched and this was awhile ago, and it was really really cool.
There was a person that took your sounds of your Braille typing and all that stuff and made it into a song.
Yes, amazing, he’s so talented his name is Andrew Huang, and he is a musician, he makes YouTube videos where he makes music out of everyday objects.
We teamed up together back around Christmastime and basically made music out of different accessibility products for the blind like my guy dogs harness, a Brailler, a liquid level indicator, and some other things.
I think that I could probably take that tone and pitch shift it, yeah, much further down, probably could use it in a few different notes, and create the melody out of that.
[Sound effects melody]
That was awesome, I really enjoyed that.
I’m glad you enjoyed that, I’ll let him know, he’s very talented.
[Music by Andrew]
I also saw a recent YouTube video where you met with two blind brothers from New York City.
Yes yeah, AT&T was able to help me meet up with Bryan and Bradford in New York City who are the co-founders of Two blind Brothers clothing line, you might have seen them on The Ellen Show, and what they’re doing is super amazing.
They work with AT&T as well on the Experience More campaign.
I was so excited to get to meet them, they’re super cool guys and what they’re doing is really really important and really unique, so it was it was pretty fun hanging out with them.
That must have been a surprise because you’re a fanatic over the Ellen show.
I am a fanatic, I love Ellen so much, she is like my idol and has been for like ten years now, so I was a little bit jealous that they got to meet her, what they’re doing definitely deserved the shadow.
[Molly interviewing Bryan and Bradford]
Hello you guys, I am here in New York City at the Two Blind Brothers Headquarters with Bryan.
And Bradford, or Brad for short, and I want you guys to kind of give like a brief synopsis of your story, and me telling somebody to be brief is kind of like you know, a little hypocritical because my brief is 20 minutes.
Basically, Bryan I are brothers, we are about six years apart, we were diagnosed with this eye disease, about a year and a half ago we wanted to do something charitable for the research related to these eye conditions.
Part time we started a small clothing company called Two Blind Brothers, and the story behind that is Bryan and I were shopping for a shirt here in Bloomingdale’s in New York City, we accidentally walked out with the same exact shirt, and the reason is because when we go shopping if you’re blind or visually impaired, you focus so much on touch.
Everything, I’m walking around feeling everything like the flag girl of the store knocking stuff over, touching everything, the hands are the eyes.
You know what’s so funny, every time I mention that story to somebody, and I, you feel everything, everybody does this, as a pantomime, I’m not sure, I guess it’s like the universal sign for just touching everything.
Waving hands [multiple voices talking over each other] touching.
Well you know right after that show, which I had seen, I went to their website to check them out, we were going to contact them, reach out and see if we could set up a podcast with them, and their website had crashed, not ten minutes after the show on, the appearance on.
Well you should definitely reach out to them and get them on the podcast, I can connect you if you’d like.
Appreciate that, I think we’ll take you up on that, and their their company was formed to make clothes that are sensitive to the touch, to feel, they’re made especially comfortable tactily, because they’re made from soft materials and things like that, but also, the proceeds go towards the funding of Stargardt’s research, which I thought was really cool.
A hundred percent of the proceeds go towards funding research for cures and all of their clothes actually have Braille tags on them so you can read the Braille on them which is kind of cool.
And actually a lot of the pieces are even made by blind people.
Yeah the Dallas Lighthouse down there in Texas, where 70% of the employers working on the material are visually impaired.
Now Molly, you’re talking about hookups and, we were thinking, what about this singer named Ed?
Oh my god I would die if I could get Ed Sheeran.
Him and Ellen, you’re bringing up like my two favorite people in the world, those are those are my two, my people.
Well we could do a four-way five-way conversation with them.
Yeah, if we ever get Ed on here we’ll give you a jingle.
Yeah seriously, call me up!
Molly thanks so much for joining us today.
Jeff did you have anything additional to ask Molly?
Sure, first of all Molly thanks a lot for taking the time to come on to Blind Abilities and sharing your story with our listeners, being part of the Experience More campaign, and is there any message that you would like someone to take away from this podcast?
To just believe in yourself, and to know that going blind isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a start of a new chapter, and there’s amazing companies out there doing amazing things for our community like AT&T and AIRA, so definitely go out, check out what doing, and head over my YouTube channel.
There’s a lot of educational videos, a lot of resources, a lot of support you can find over there, so hopefully something there helps, hopefully something I’ve said here and this interview helps.
I’m always here for you so if you need somebody hit me up.
Thank you very much.
We appreciate that.
I’ll vouch for that, there are so many interesting YouTube videos, and you have your own website as well which I believe is Molly Burke Official.
mollyburkeofficial.com, that’s right!
There you go, well Molly please come back and chat with us again, particularly after you land those acting roles when you move to .LA. okay?
Thanks again Molly, appreciate you talking to us!
It was a real pleasure to talk to Molly Burke, and be sure to check her out on the web at mollyburkeofficial.com, and this has been brought to you by AT&T and AIRA hashtag Experience More.
Check them out on the web at experiencemore.att.com, and check out AIRA at AIRA.IO, and a big big shout out to Chee Chau for his beautiful music used in this production.
And you can find them on Twitter at lcheechau.
This has been a Blind Abilites production, thanks for listening!
When we share what we see through each other’s eyes, we can begin to bridge the gap between limited expectations and the realities of blind abilities.
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Thanks for listening.