Teen Born With No Arms, Legs Addresses UN on Disabilities

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2012   |   12:57PM   |   New York, NY

A teenager from Ireland is one of several people with the rare medical condition known as Total Amelia syndrome, which caused her to be born without arms and legs. That hasn’t stopped 16-year-old Joanne O’Riordan from making the most out of life.

The teenager with a bright and positive outlook on life addressed the United Nations — delivering the keynote speech to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union in New York.

At the conference, she urged delegates to the UN to use technology to help disabled people like her — who are frequently victims of abortion or encouraged later in life to take their lives using euthanasia or assisted suicide — to make the most out of life.

“I’m asking the women here, who are the leading women in their fields, to start doing what I do every day – think outside the box. To think of ways and means to make technology more accessible to the people who really need it, she said.

“The main thing the robot would be doing is picking up the objects I drop such as a pen, knife, fork, and or my phone” she said.

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“I want to live an independent life just like you,” she added.

She told delegates how she had used technology to change her life “dramatically”.

She could with technology “do all the things my other friends were doing with their fingers. I was able to be as good as them if not better.”

Although some people might say O’Riordan has a very low quality of life and might be more interested in ending her life rather than tackling the challenge her disability presents, the Irish teen uses her upper and bottom lip, chin, nose and hand to work the latest technological devices — to the point that she says her skill is quite good.

“Technology has opened up a world of possibilities, through which I have excelled in both my education and social environment around me.

Ms O’Riordan told delegates that her motto in life was “no limbs no limits”.

As someone who can type 36 words a minute and who appears to enjoy interacting with her friends and family, O’Riordan truly does have an unlimited life ahead of her and her positive, upbeat demeanor is an inspiration for millions. Who says people with even some of the most challenging physical conditions can’t take life head-on?