The JJs List Blog

Zach Anner on Oprah – Disability on TV like never before

Posted by on June 24, 2011 - 5 Comments

JJ Hanley and John Gier

Article written by John Gier, a JJ’s List volunteer and self-advocate with Cerebral Palsy.

Zach Anner, a young male with Cerebral Palsy from Texas, is going to have his own show. “Rolling Around the World with Zach Anner” will be on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which reaches millions of people, starting this month.

Cerebral Palsy is a birth defect caused by lack of oxygen getting to the brain. A person with Cerebral Palsy might move slower than someone who does not have it. Some people use a wheelchair, thankfully I am able to walk after years of physical therapy. Zach refers to Cerebral Palsy as the “sexiest of Palsies”, which I find amusing because I have never heard of any other kind of Palsy.

Oprah Winfrey and Zach Anner

Zach got his show by entering the “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s search for the next TV star” contest. (Check out his audition here, and the pilot created during the finale here) It is going to feature him traveling and meeting new people around the world. The show seems very interesting. Since I have never had to travel by airplane, I do not know what the procedure is for airline passengers with disabilities. However, I have had no problems when I took road trips.

There are very few disability-based radio or television shows out there. In fact I think Zach’s is the only one that I have heard of. A person with a disability having their own television program proves to me that any person with a disability can achieve just about what a non-disabled person can.

I agree that a wheelchair should not limit people with disabilities. People with disabilities should be able to have the same experiences as the rest of the word. We may take a while or require special equipment, but we are still human beings. It really bothers me when I get an awkward feeling when people, especially professional service staff, do not always take the time to listen to me and show me basic respect. After seeing his show, business owners might think twice about how they treat people with disabilities. It is important that everyone gets the same respect.

I look forward to seeing the societal change Zach’s show will generate.

On a side note, Zach has a Top 10 list of things on his site. I would like to share my top 5 favorite bands
1. Peter, Paul and Mary
2. The Kingston Trio
3. James Taylor
4. Bob Dylan
5. The Beatles


Bill says:
Jul 02, 2011

Very interesting….thanks for the information John. I will definitely be looking up Zach’s show!

Bill says:
Jul 07, 2011

Bill, glad you enjoyed the story. Zach is really bringing information about disabled people to a large audience.

Jeff says:
Jul 05, 2011

Great article John! I’ll have to check out Zach’s show sometime soon

Joe says:
Jul 05, 2011

Nice blog post John – When will you be getting your own show as a movie critic??

Billi says:
Jun 30, 2018

As the mother of a daughter with autism and a son who has disabilities, the struggles have been real. Especially as a single mother both as a young woman and now a 40 something year old. My kids first and foremost, but i must say I’ve faced some adversity myself that made it much harder as my physical health began to take a toll on every part of our lives. So as a parent thank you oprah for being the first to share Zach story and life with us

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