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The Trailblazer Series: The Intellectuals

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Nicholas vujicic trailblazer

Earlier this month, we continued with our Trailblazer series with the sports star instalment. In this feature, we highlighted some of the world’s most talented sportsmen and women who also happen to have a disability, chronic condition or learning difficulty.

Throughout 2023, we’ll be continuing the series to highlight the successes of disabled individuals to prove that disability does not equal inability.

The Trailblazer Series: Let’s meet the intellectuals

Stephen Hawking

Steven Hawking

© Getty Images

Stephen Hawking, who lived from January 8, 1942, to March 14, 2018, was one of the most well-known scientists in history. Due to ALS, he was verbally impaired, therefore, Prof. Hawking had to use a customized wheelchair that had a computer placed on it that could speak for him. 

Hawking was a renowned theoretical physicist who made important discoveries about the universe’s operation. One of many of his significant scientific accomplishments is the discovery of Hawking radiation. Additionally, in 1974, Professor Stephen Hawking was chosen as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). In 2009, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest, st civilian honour. He also received numerous accolades for his contributions to science. He might be the most well-known disabled person in the entire globe.

Helen Keller

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Helen Keller

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Helen Keller (June 27, 1880–June 1, 1968) is arguably the best-known representative of people with disabilities. At the age of 19 months, she developed a disease that left her deaf and blind. Keller continued to become the first deaf-blind graduate in history. The Story of My Life, Helen Keller’s autobiography, is regarded as a classic work of English literature. She traversed the globe in support of causes like socialism, women’s suffrage, labour rights, and antimilitarism. 

Nicholas Vujicic 

Nicholas vujicic trailblazer

© Sebastian Derungs

Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia. He was born without arms or legs due to the unusual condition known as phocomelia. Nick went on to graduate from Griffith University at the age of 21 despite all the challenges his condition presents.  Nick is the creator of “Attitude is Altitude” and a well-known motivational speaker across the world.

Samantha Renke

Samantha Renke Trailblazer

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Samantha Renke is a presenter, disability activist, inclusion and equality consultant, keynote speaker and columnist for the Metro newspaper in the UK. Samantha has dedicated her career to changing the workplace for disabled people and encouraging better representation of disabilities in the media. Now, Renke is the Disability Lead at Paramount, The Diversity Trust and UNLRN.

John Nash

John Nash

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John Nash was a world-renowned mathematician. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for pioneering the analysis of equilibrium in the theory of non-cooperative games. In 1959, Nash was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Despite his ongoing battle with his disease, Nash excelled in mathematics. He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. The Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind was based on the life of John Nash (1998). Russel Crowe played Nash, and Ron Howard beautifully directed this masterpiece.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo trailblazer

© The University of Texas

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who was six years old when she was diagnosed with polio. Her condition caused her right leg to become shorter and thinner than her left. In 1925, Kahlo was involved in an accident that exacerbated her condition. She spent the majority of her life in bed, in excruciating discomfort. Despite this, Kahlo went on to become one of the most recognized artists and a cultural icon.

Frida Kahlo’s most famous works include Henry Ford Hospital (1932), My Birth (1932), Self-Portrait on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States (1932), Memory, the Heart (1937), What the Water Gave Me (1938), The Two Fridas (1939), Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1939), and Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1939). (1940).

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 Louis Braille

Louis Braille

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Louis Braille became blind in one eye, at the age of three, as a result of an accident. This led Braille Louis Braille to devise a reading and writing method for the visually impaired. This tactile approach is known as Braille language. Braille began working on his touch-based programming while still a student. He won a scholarship from the Royal Institute for Blind Youth. Braille originally revealed his code system in 1824.

 

 

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5 Ways People With Disabilities Can Propel Your Business Brand to Success

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In the fast-paced and diverse business landscape of today, inclusivity holds the key to extraordinary achievements, going beyond being just a buzzword. By embracing diversity and harnessing the talents of individuals with disabilities, you have the opportunity to witness a remarkable transformation in your business brand, setting it apart from the competition.

Below are five ways people with disabilities can become powerful catalysts for skyrocketing your business brand:

1. Unleashing Creativity and Innovation: People with disabilities bring a unique perspective to problem-solving and innovation. Their diverse experiences and adaptive thinking can lead to groundbreaking ideas that resonate with a broader audience, elevating your brand to new heights.

2. Cultivating Enhanced Customer Empathy: Employing individuals with disabilities fosters a deeper understanding of your customers’ diverse needs and preferences. This empathy fuels the development of products and services catering to a wider range of individuals, thereby boosting customer loyalty and enhancing your brand’s reputation.

3. Crafting Inclusive Marketing Campaigns: With a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities, creating authentic and inclusive marketing campaigns becomes second nature. Representation matters, and consumers connect more profoundly with a brand that embraces diversity and reflects the real world.

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4. Nurturing an Empowering Workplace Culture: Embracing diversity cultivates a positive workplace culture that encourages teamwork, respect, and open-mindedness. This welcoming environment attracts top talent, boosts employee morale, reduces turnover, and ultimately leads to increased productivity and overall success.

5. Making a Positive Social Impact: Actively promoting inclusivity and providing equal opportunities positions your business as a force for positive social change. Modern consumers appreciate brands that align with their values, and your commitment to empowering people with disabilities will garner genuine support and unwavering loyalty.

Integrating people with disabilities into your workforce is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic decision that can propel your business brand to unprecedented heights. By leveraging their unique talents and perspectives, you have the potential to cultivate a brand that stands out, deeply connects with customers, and makes a meaningful contribution to a more inclusive society.

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Hansal Emmanuel: Defying Odds as a Disabled Basketball Star

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Hansel Enmanuel is a true embodiment of inspiration, defying all odds to excel. Not only is he a viral internet star, college student, and immigrant to the United States, but he also stands out as a Division I college basketball player, achieving all of this with only one arm.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Enmanuel faced a life-changing accident at the age of six, resulting in the loss of his left arm. Despite this setback, he refused to let it define him and discovered his passion for basketball. Moving to the United States at 16, with limited knowledge of English, presented another challenge, but he tackled it with unwavering determination.

As a tall and gifted athlete, Enmanuel’s talent for dunking caught attention during his high school days at the Life Christian Academy in Florida. His internet fame skyrocketed, amassing over 4 million followers on Instagram and TikTok combined.

Though highly accomplished, doubts from college coaches initially clouded his path. However, he persisted, earning a place at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. His journey in Division I college basketball started with modest beginnings, but his dedication and hard work were evident in every practice and game.

On the court, Enmanuel’s unique sense of balance and tenacity set him apart from his teammates. His astounding rebound and dunk during a game against the University of Louisiana Monroe left the crowd in awe, but the humble athlete remained focused on his defensive responsibilities.

In the face of success and popularity, Enmanuel’s work ethic remained unshakable. He rejected any special treatment, choosing to be treated like any other teammate when it came to discipline and responsibilities.

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Despite not mapping out this extraordinary journey as a child, Hansel Enmanuel has become an inspiration to countless individuals around the world. Through perseverance, resilience, and an unyielding passion for basketball, he has proven that greatness knows no limitations. As his college career progresses, the attention he receives is bound to expand even further, allowing his story to reach and inspire even more people. 

Hansel Enmanuel’s tale is a reminder that with the right attitude and determination, anything is possible, and dreams can be achieved regardless of the challenges life throws our way.

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Disability campaigners lose legal fight over Grenfell recommendation

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Campaigners have faced a disappointing outcome in their High Court battle against the government’s decision not to implement evacuation plans for disabled residents living in high-rise buildings. The Claddag campaign group had hoped for a legal requirement to have escape plans in place for those who might face difficulties in safely evacuating during emergencies.

However, the government’s Home Office conducted a consultation and concluded that the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry would be excessively expensive and impractical to put into action. Instead, they are now exploring an alternative solution.

Back in October 2019, the chairman of the Grenfell Inquiry recommended a legal obligation for owners and managers of high-rise residential buildings to create “Peeps” (personal emergency evacuation plans) specifically tailored to residents with mobility issues or sensory impairments, such as visual, hearing, or cognitive impairments. 

This recommendation was prompted by the tragic Grenfell fire in June 2017, which claimed 72 lives, with 41% of the deceased being disabled residents of the tower. In response to the inquiry’s suggestions, the Home Office initiated a consultation to consider implementing the Peeps proposals. However, in May 2022, the government decided not to make Peeps a legal requirement, citing concerns about practicality and cost.

Claddag, an organisation founded by two disabled tower-block residents, Sarah Rennie and Georgie Hulme, contested this decision through a judicial review at the High Court in December. The government’s legal representative argued during the hearing that they were still consulting on the proposals, and a final decision had not yet been reached.

Recently, Mrs. Justice Stacey delivered her judgement, stating that the government had indeed decided against implementing the Peeps recommendation. However, she emphasised that the government had the right to make such a decision after carefully considering the fire-safety implications versus the associated costs.

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In response to the ruling, the founders of Claddag expressed their disappointment, accusing the government of putting financial concerns above the lives of disabled individuals and leaving them without a means of escape in high-rise buildings.

A Home Office spokesperson welcomed the court’s decision, explaining that it would allow them to move forward with plans to enhance the safety of residents who may have difficulties evacuating during emergencies. They are currently reviewing responses to a public consultation on Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing Plus, an alternative approach to Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, to determine the best course of action to safeguard those who may struggle to self-evacuate.

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