Hawking: Did he change views on disability?

From BBC - March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was both one of the world's most famous scientists and most famous disabled people.

His life was a juxtaposition of sparkling intellect and failing body.

Prof Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease when he was 22.

The nerves that controlled his muscles were failing and he became trapped in his body, but his mind was still free.

He reached the height of his field while being wheelchair-bound and communicating through a synthetic voice.

So did he change society's perceptions of disability?

"I think he's done more than anyone else," said Prof Paul Shellard, who was a student of Prof Hawking.

He told the BBC: "He's been an incredible exemplar of there being no boundary to human endeavour.

"He identified what he could do well, exceptionally well, and focussed on that, not what he could not do."

That made him a role-model and inspiration for many.

Prof Hawking certainly raised awareness of motor neurone diseases.

One of his major contributions to disability in general was simply being visible - often at a time when disabled voices were missing from popular culture.


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