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Stephen Hawking Dies Aged 76

March 14, 2018

Readers, it’s a sad, sad day for the disability community. Stephen Hawking, who is in my opinion the most intelligent disabled person ever to have lived, has died aged 76.

He has always been a true inspiration to me, a woman born with her disability, Cerebral Palsy.

Like his disability, Motor Neurone Disease, Cerebral Palsy affects speech at several different levels. So while I am lucky enough to have clear speech, I have had several nonverbal friends all my life. They have always shown me that you don’t need verbal communication to be intelligent.

Stephen Hawking inspired me because he and his instantly recognisable, computerised voice showed the world what I have always known- that disabled people can do anything they like, and have opinions on anything they like. The world listened to him when he showed them this- possibly because he became disabled as a young adult. Now that his life has ended, at least fifty years after doctors first told him it would, I hope the world remembers this forever.

Also, because he became disabled later in life, after meeting his first wife Jane Hawking, he showed the world that becoming disabled doesn’t need to change the life a person had before. He stayed married as his disability progressed, and had three children. This too has always been inspiring to me. My parents were told, in 1990s school playgrounds, that I would never fall in love or get married. Children were not thought of for people who were born disabled. When I was old enough to understand, I soon realised those people were wrong. Stephen Hawking was one of the reasons why I realised this.

Most of all, Stephen Hawking inspired me because, even though his disability eventually cost him everything else, he never lost his brilliant mind. As a child, I struggled to get mainstream schools to accept me and the limits my disability brought. Once the schools accepted me, I struggled to  show teachers that I was as intelligent as anyone else in my class. Stephen Hawking showed me, my teachers and the whole world that disabled people can, and do, have brilliant minds, too, and that brilliant things may just happen if the rest of the world allows those brilliant minds to be used to their full potential.

There may, or may not, ever again be any disabled person quite as intelligent as Stephen Hawking on this planet. Personally, though, I hope the world never forgets him. I hope the children of today and the children of tomorrow learn all about him in Science and History lessons of the future. Most of all, I hope that when children come out of lessons about Stephen Hawking, they leave them knowing everything he taught me by example.

The news of Stephen Hawking’s death was a shock to wake up to this morning. It is something that, perhaps, should have happened long, long ago. Perhaps even long before my lifetime. However, now that it has happened, there is no doubt in my mind that it is a sad, sad day for the whole world.

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