A Conversation with Shane Burcaw

Picture of Shane Burcaw
Image: DRA board member Shane Burcaw sitting in his wheelchair and smiling


DRA is excited to welcome Shane Burcaw to our Board of Directors. Shane is the author of three award-winning books about living with a disability. Shane co-founded Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. in 2012, which has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in adaptive equipment to people living with muscular dystrophy diseases. He and his fiancée, Hannah Aylward, are the duo behind Squirmy and Grubs, a YouTube channel that offers a behind-the-scenes look at their interabled relationship.

  • How did you first learn about DRA?

I had heard that there was an organization working on taxi accessibility in NYC, but I didn’t connect it to DRA until a friend of mine, Steven Ragland—who serves on the DRA Board—wrote me to introduce me to the organization and invited me to join. I took some time to read about the history of DRA and realized that so many of the disability rights cases I’ve heard about over the years have been led by DRA.

  • Why did you decide to join DRA’s Board of Directors?

For over eight years, I’ve been working to shift the public narrative about disability through writing blogs, articles, and books, as well as creating YouTube videos with my fiancée. Erasing the stigmas that exist about disability is at the core of my creative passion, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve wished for a way to combine my social message with more concrete systemic change. Joining DRA will give me the opportunity to support a powerful group of advocates who are making real changes in the landscape of disability rights.

  • Why do you think DRA’s work is so urgent and important?  (Especially at this particularly strange moment in our nation’s history.)

Sadly, recent years have included frequent reminders that people with disabilities are still not viewed (or treated) as equals in our society. Generally speaking, I think our society, especially younger generations, is moving towards a world where everyone is embraced and supported, but in order to get there, we can’t slow down in our demand for access and equality.

  • What aspect of DRA’s work are you most proud of?

One aspect of the organization that I find particularly impressive is the volume of important cases that they’re constantly handling. It seems that DRA accomplishes numerous monumental goals each year, and I’m just really proud that they exist in such a powerful way.