“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” — Stephen Hawking’s impact on the disabled culture and the people

Narmeen Shigri
Mar 17, 2018 · 3 min read

Stephen Hawking known for his contribution to the world of science and his groundbreaking discoveries has drawn people across the globe in embracing his scientific methodologies and projections.

Stephen William Hawking, a theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author of several popular science books including “A Brief History of Time” has departed at the age of 76 on 14th March 2018. Born in Oxford, England on 8th January 1942, Hawking spent his early life in St Albans, Hertfordshire where his family was considered to be highly educated and intelligent.

Hawking’s early academic life was however not so exceptional as he thoroughly enjoyed playing board games with his few close friends and invented new games of their own. He later then decided to enter University College, Oxford at the age of 17 where he found his academic education quite easy. Despite his effortless graduate years, he still managed to receive a first-class BA (Hons.) degree in natural science. In 1962, he continued on with his education life and attended Trinity College at Cambridge University for a PhD in cosmology.

However, Hawking’s life took a turn when he was diagnosed with “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of rare neurological diseases that mainly involve the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement. Voluntary muscles produce movements like chewing, walking, and talking.” This life-threatening condition lured Hawking into depression and hopelessness as he underwent numerous tests and spent most of his time at the clinic. But later, he had a sudden realization of hope and that there is more to do in life. He turned his disability into a success story and never looked back.

Prof Paul Shellard, one of Stephen Hawking’s student shares his sentiments on a BBC published article:

“I think he’s done more than anyone else. He’s been an incredible exemplar of there being no boundary to human endeavor.

He identified what he could do well, exceptionally well, and focused on that, not what he couldn’t do.”

Moreover, Hawking’s commendable thrive for his research work and his exceptional discoveries were worldwide known and appreciated. And that was made possible because in a sense, his condition made him into a well-known scientist. Being visible to the society helped him shift the advanced culture in comprehending the capabilities of an individual with a disability. In addition, his contribution to the scientific world over the past five decades have been impactful and historic. His views are an epitome for ARISE Impact’s fundamental approach in creating an inclusive, opportunistic platform for the people with disabilities. Enabling self-learning and self-training as these tools lead people with disabilities to feel empowered and be able to achieve their goals and success.

Elis palmer, a BBC reporter with a disability had his personal take on the demise of Stephen Hawking:
“Prof. Hawking showed that, despite public perceptions of what a disabled person can do, people with disabilities can achieve amazing things.

Even today, there are still too few disabled people out there in the public eye on a daily basis who are relatable for ordinary disabled people growing up.”

In an interview with New York Times, Hawking said: “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically. “

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