We all want an inclusive world, and in recent years, people who have been marginalised are finding a place in society. From women getting suffrage and civil rights for black Americans to gay people getting marriage equality, those who have been traditionally not heard are now sharing their experiences. One of the most marginalised groups is those who have a disability.
In 1977, Judith Heumann and some of her friends in the disabled community decided to stage a protest in San Francisco. Heumann had been demanding for Congress and President Nixon to sign the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, but Nixon had vetoed earlier versions of the Act. So Heumann and her friends staged sit-in protests in several federal buildings across the United States to demand the government to recognise people with disabilities.
This event has made it possible for all disabled people to receive fair treatment. This includes providing visual aids for the visually impaired in the classroom; providing a seat or spot in public transport; and providing sign language or picture guides in public spaces. All these allowed them to receive an education and create a life where they can be independent and successful. Here are some famous people who overcame their disabilities and became iconic in their fields.
Bocelli suffered congenital glaucoma and completely lost his vision when he was 12 years old. But he retained his great passion for music, so in 1992, he sent a demo tape singing a famous Italian rock song. Luciano Pavarotti eventually sang the song together with Andrea Bocelli, and it became a hit in Europe. This started his career as a famous tenor, and he has not looked back since.
Kahlo contracted polio at a young age. Though she survived the disease, one of her legs withered. She disguised her condition by wearing long skirts. When she was 18, she suffered a horrible accident that left her with a broken pelvis and spine. It was during her recuperation when she used art to express herself. These days, her self-portraits are one of the most iconic images in the world.
Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder where a baby is born with no arms and legs. Born to Yugoslavian parents in Australia, Nick wrote in his biography that initially, his parents did not want to hold him; but eventually, they accepted his condition. Nick is now a world-famous Christian evangelist and motivational speaker. He is also the founder of Life Without Limbs, an organisation dedicated to all people with disabilities.
A Disability is not a Death Sentence
For these talented people, their disability, whether congenital or acquired later in life, was not a death sentence. But it was a challenge that they had to overcome to fulfil their dreams and make their mark in the world. Whether it was the result of an illness or an accident, they knew it was only a hurdle they could overcome, with a little help from their families and an inclusive society.