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Disability History: People Who Have Made a Difference! features stories of people in their own homes, lives, families, communities, states, nations or the world who have made a difference (as), (with) or (for) people with disabilities.
The disability movement has lost a dedicated advocate from Melbourne, Australia. Stella Young was a comedian, former ABC's editor for Ramp Up, a disability website, and an advocate. She performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2014 in a one woman show called "Tales from the Crip." Stella was born with a congenital bone disorder, Osteogenesis imperfecta. She advocated for people with disabilities to be allowed to live their lives. At seventeen she realized, "That I was not wrong for the world I live in. The world I live in was not yet right for me.” She continued through her work and her humor to change misconceptions about disability and change legislation in Australia. See her Ted talk: Inspiration porn and the objectification of disability, Sydney, Australia, 2014, link through this article on The Australian.
"Marathon of Hope" - Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer research activist, person with right leg amputation.
Disability rights activist, health policy researcher, author, and associate professor at Florida International University. Batavia became disabled at 15 from an accident that left him with a spinal cord injury. He eventually received law degrees from both Stanford and Harvard and from 1990 to 1991 was a WhiteHouse fellow, special assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, writing regulations to effectuate the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. He was active throughout his life in disability advocacy. His memoirs were found by his family posthumously and were published in 2015, Wisdom from a Chair.
In the preface Batavia wrote: "My mission in this world is to try to ensure that all people, including people with disabilities, have greater choices in and control over their lives. I believe that achieving this mission will make the world a slightly better place than it was before I got here." p. xvii
"There is a need to assist those with SCI (Spinal Cord injury) to become or return to being productive members of society." - American R&B/soul singer and songwriter, founder of the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, an organization for people with Spinal Cord Injury, - a person with parapalegia.
We pay tribute to Stephen Hawking who passed away this month. He was a British born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and was Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.
He did groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and his books have helped to make science accessible to everyone.
Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. He used a computerized communication device and a wheelchair and continued his life with family, work, scientific discoveries and travel and public lectures. He used humor often in his lectures and conversations and is quoted as saying, "Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor."
"My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically."
Evan J. Kemp, Jr. was a leader in the passing of the American Disabilities Act in 1990 with Justin Dart, Sandra Parrino And Rev. Wilke. He was a lawyer, a husband and a person with a physical disability who eventually suffered an accident to his legs and used a wheel chair. In 1959 he graduated from Washington & Lee University and the University of Virginia Law School. He had graduated near the top of his class and believed that he would be hired, but after 37 job interviews he was not hired. He took a government job but became disheartened by the treatment of people with disabiities and in 1980 became director of the Disability Rights Center. He was Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in 1990. He was first named to the commission under President Reagan in 1987. He became a republican to try to get the ADA legislation passed, befriending politicians with the agenda of a disability mission. He worked to educate national policy makers on the importance of equal opportunity and self-determination for people with disabilities. New York Times article
"Get into politics as if your life depended on it. It does." - - - This is the most famous quote from the man given the title, "Father of the American Disabilities Act." For more information, visit this article from Disability History, Justin Dart: Activist
The disability movement has lost a dedicated advocate. In the early 70s, Alberta Lessard challenged the system on mental health commitment laws and changed, through the US Supreme Court, the laws across the country to provide more protection for individual patients such as rights to legal representation, a timely hearing, a jury trial and cross-examination of witnesses.
Alberta is absolute proof that one person can make a difference. She was an awesome, loving, caring, forgiving, special friend of one of the active members of New Horizons Un-Limited. She will be missed. [Photo credit: jsonline.com]
On August 11, 2009, the disability community lost a great champion of those with intellectual disabilities, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. A long time advocate for children's health and disability issues, Shriver was a key founder of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and spearheaded the movement towards nationalizing the Special Olympics. To learn more about the life's work of this remarkable woman, visit Eunice Kennedy Shriver: One Woman's Vision online at www.eunicekennedyshriver.org.
Her social activism brough her to say, "My darkness has been filled with intelligence, and behold, the outerday-lit world was stumbling and groping in social blindness." Although Ms. Keller died in 1968, the "social blindness" she referred to unfortunately continues to survive in many places and certainly among many individuals. Part of the reason for this is the actual absence from mainstream societies of disabled persons. "The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all."
Of her disability she said, "I am just as deaf as I am blind. The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus -- the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man."
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