Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

The Power of Disability Podcast

A Below the Radar Series

Highlighting what history has overlooked: the incredible contributions of people with disabilities.


Host Al Etmanski brings us enlightening conversations, featuring guests with disabilities who have been influential in arts, activism, science, and more. This series is a continuation of the work Al has shared in the book, The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World, which reveals that people with disabilities are the invisible force that has shaped history.

Listen to our Below the Radar interview with Al Etmanski to hear more about his intentions for the series.

Available via the Below the Radar podcast on SoundCloud and YouTube


  • The Power of Disability Part 1 — with Victoria Maxwell
    Al Etmanski interviews Victoria Maxwell, the Bipolar Princess. They discuss the role of art and creativity in the process of change, the dramatic increase in antidepressant prescriptions and the fact that depression is the number one source of disability in the world today. They also speak to the need for universal mental health care. Victoria explains why we need to shift from recovery as a possibility to recovery as an expectation.
  • The Power of Disability Part 2 — with Judy Heumann
    Lifelong activist and wheelchair user Judy Heumann joins Al Etmanski for this instalment of The Power of Disability. Judy is a powerful advocate in the disability movement both in the US and globally. She and Al talk about her long history of fighting for the rights of disabled people, a part of which is featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.
  • The Power of Disability Part 3 — with Carmen Papalia
    Non-visual artist Carmen Papalia speaks with Al Etmanski about the rampancy of ableism across institutions — from the art world to healthcare, to the symbol of the white cane. Carmen and Al discuss how institutions can be sites of retraumatization that can often overlook and underappreciate variations in ability.
  • The Power of Disability Part 4 — with Rabia Khedr
    Rabia Khedr, an activist, consultant, former Human Rights Commissioner and motivational speaker who ‘wears many hijabs,’ joins Al Etmanski for this Power of Disability conversation. They discuss Rabia’s advocacy and policy work within the disability community and the Muslim community; bringing a disability benefit, or basic income, to Canada; as well as the vital importance of having people disabled folks driving systems change.
  • The Power of Disability Part 5 — with Tim Louis and Penny Parry
    The Power of Disability host, Al Etmanski is joined by partners and disability advocates Tim Louis and Penny Parry. Tim is a lawyer, politician, and longtime leader of the disability movement within British Columbia. Penny has worked as a university professor, artist, and youth care practitioner. Tim and Penny share stories and learnings from 40 plus years of working on social issues in their own careers and together as a couple.
  • The Power of Disability Part 6 — with Barb Goode
    This final installment of the Power of Disability series highlights an unsung hero of the disability movement, Barb Goode. Host Al Etmanski is in conversation with Barb about her work around self-advocacy for people with learning and developmental disabilities. Barb speaks to the importance of plain language and the harm that comes from labelling people. She also recounts organizing efforts around a milestone legal struggle to prevent the forced sterilization of people with disabilities.

About the Host

Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur, and author. He’s been a parent activist in the disability world since his daughter Liz was born. He led the closure of institutions and segregated schools in British Columbia, and founded Canada’s first Family Support Institute. In 1989 he co-founded Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) with his wife Vickie Cammack. While at PLAN he lobbied into existence the world’s first Disability Savings Plan.

Al is a global Ashoka fellow and a member of John McKnight’s Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) network. He has received many awards for his activism including the Order of Canada and the Big Picture award from his peers in the disability movement.

Theme Music

The theme music for The Power of Disability podcast is “There is Nothing Wrong with Me, Epilepsy” by Todd Oseki. Thank you to Todd for generously offering us the use of this piece.

Todd Oseki is a man with a passion for music, singing and songwriting. He has written, co-written, and recorded several songs throughout the years. He has a rare complex, degenerative medical condition. Although he is no longer able to sing or write he remains very passionate about music.