John McFall, former Paralympian, has been appointed by the European Space Agency as the world’s first disabled astronaut
John McFall, who had his right leg amputated above the knee at 19 following a motorcycle accident, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to join their 2022 astronaut cohort. He is the first ever astronaut with a physical disability or ‘parastronaut’.
McFall will take part in the ESA’s ’Parastronaut Feasibility Project’ as they aim to discover what adaptations would be required to send a disabled astronaut into space. In an interview with the ESA, McFall said: “I’m extremely excited about using the skills that I have for problem-solving, identifying issues and overcoming obstacles that allow people with a physical disability to perform the job equally to their able-bodied counterparts.” He hopes to discover the answer to practical questions, such as what happens to residual limbs in microgravity.
McFall’s career as a sprinter saw him take part in many prestigious international competitions, including the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games where he won bronze in the M men’s 100m T42. He went on to study medicine and is currently a specialist orthopaedics registrar.
The application process for the feasibility study was open to people in participating countries who are otherwise qualified to become an astronaut but have physical disabilities. The disabilities considered were a lower limb deficiency through the ankle or below the knees, pronounced leg length difference, or a height less than 130 CM. They received 257 applications, 27 of which proceeded to the second phase. As part of the 4-stage process, applicants had to undergo rigorous practical, psychological, and group exercises to ensure they had the skills and temperament required to make it in space.
As well as McFall, the ESA has recruited 5 career astronauts and 11 reserve astronauts as part of the class of 2022. They were announced at a ceremony on the 23rd of November and are the first new ESA astronauts since 2009. They will undergo 12 months of basic training, starting in spring 2023.
McFall isn’t guaranteed a trip into space at this stage as the ESA is currently focusing on the feasibility of such a mission. They are open to the possibility though and said: “There are many unknowns ahead of us, the only promise we can make today is one of a serious, dedicated and honest attempt to clear the path to space for a professional astronaut with a physical disability.”
McFall is optimistic for the future: “Science is for everyone, and space travel, hopefully, can be for everyone.”
5 Ways People With Disabilities Can Propel Your Business Brand to Success
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.
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.
Hansal Emmanuel: Defying Odds as a Disabled Basketball Star
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.
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.
Disability campaigners lose legal fight over Grenfell recommendation
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.
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.