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Happy birthday Stephen Hawking

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:39pm
Today in 1942 Stephen Hawking was born in Britain. For those of you unfamiliar with Stephen Hawking he is a brilliant physicist who has been living with ALS for more than four decades. ALS is typically a fast-moving fatal disease that traps the individuals in their own body.

Of course the mainstream press Wired uses my pet peeve in describing Dr. Hawking "as wheelchair bound". Individuals who use wheelchairs as their mobility aids are not wheelchair bound! I am not duct tapped in my chair every morning.

In my opinion the mainstream press typically covers two stories regarding individuals with disabilities. The press portrays individuals with disabilities as either people to be pitied as poor and unfortunate or as heroes for accomplishing the ordinary task of living.

Regardless of the media type: television, newspapers, magazine or Internet article individuals with disabilities are often misrepresented. A simple course in people first language or disability awareness would dramatically improve how the press reports on individuals with disabilities.

My wheelchair enables me to move through life independently. It's a high quality wheelchair that allows me to interact at different height levels (it has a seat elevator), as well as independently do weight shifts (for pressure relief). Using a wheelchair for mobility empowers me it should not be reported as something I am chained to. I wish the press would finally get this right, it's archaic and offensive.
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