Emily Ladau: Advocating with Grace and Wit

In Audacious People by Nathasha Alvarez

A woman sits in her motorized wheelchair

Emily sits in her motorized wheelchair.

Editor’s Note: Very few people in the advocacy arena truly impress me. I know. I’ve been told my standards and expectations are too high. Emily Ladau impresses me. Read on.

Emily Ladau’s personality captures my attention long before we actually connect on a personal level via Facebook. I am a long time fan of her blog. I love the way she is graceful and witty while getting her point across as an advocate. For example, when Emily writes about being discriminated in New Mexico, she takes us with her during this unnecessary experience.  You can feel Emily’s frustration. Her discrimination becomes ours.

Sharing a moment with a reader is a powerful skill for writers. Emily does this consistently in her writing. It’s one of her most effective techniques as an advocate for people with disabilities. Perhaps that is one of the reasons she’s Editor in Chief at Rooted In Rights.  It’s an organization that believes

 “…disabled people should be the ones writing, producing, filming and editing our own stories.”


At first, Emily comes off so calm and serious. I know better because I read her tweets and posts. She quite hilarious. What can I say? I’m a fan! But there’s another side to her.

Her sense of humor is at times, low key, snarky or witty. But there’s usually a nugget of gold advice and information in her jesting. In Emily’s piece for the Huffington Post, Dear Parents: No, I Won’t Run Your Child Over with My Wheelchair    her storytelling skills exemplifies how her humor can gracefully inform ignorant people. Sometimes, I think people don’t even know what Emily is doing to them. It’s the silent scent of advocacy.

No one really wants to be scolded or schooled. Therefore, finding a middle ground can be like walking or rolling in a mine field. One wrong move and poof!  As an advocate, the point is to be able to reach out to the people who need to see our point of view so they are willing to support our goal for inclusion and acceptance. Emily manages to do that with flair.

What Attitude!

You’d expect someone with a long list of accolades to have a long list of attitude but that’s quite the opposite of Emily. Speaking to her during the interview, she comes off as very modest, humble and willing to work with anyone who wants to break down barriers that hold back the disabled community. That’s extremely refreshing.

I’ve been in advocacy circles for decades and I’ve seen it all. Advocates making the people who they are advocating for feel inferior to them.  Or indebted for their services. I’ve attended  seminars where the “elite” advocates huddle together as if they were back in high school. It was a big turn off.

Emily doesn’t come across that way at all. There’s no snide in her comments. Even in our camera interview, she was as sweet, kind and articulate as she presents herself on the Internet. We laughed at our love for lipstick and agreed that all of us have to work together to ensure that our rights are not only held up but expanded in other areas of our lives.

Emily audaciously shares her vulnerable side. Last year in September, she wrote about her dating experience for the New York Times.  This is actually one of my favorite articles. It has that “Sex and the City” vibe to it. I love Emily’s ability to be 100% truthful with us.

Great job, Emily!

Her gift is to show the world that she is more than her disability. She’s a woman living with Larsen Syndrome. She is a person who loves to socialize, paint, write, advocate and bring a bit a happiness in everyone’s life. Emily is living an audacious life. That’s enough of a reason to impress anyone.

Thank you for the interview! I look forward to interviewing again when you win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Follow Emily on Twitter like I do. https://twitter.com/emily_ladau


Speaking up is a form of advocacy. Here’s an article that every educator should read when referring to students with disabilities. 

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