In Memoriam – A tribute to the disability advocates we lost in 2018

from Newz Hook

Many defining faces and figures from the world of disability passed away in 2018. Here is Newz Hook’s tribute to the disability advocates we lost.

India’s global face of disability rights movement Javed Abidipassed away in May due to a chest infection. He was 53 years old. He singlehandedly led some of the most path-breaking initiatives in disability rights in India and was widely regarded as the father of the movement.

Barely 10 days after Mr Abidi’s death, came the news that eminent physicist, cosmologist and author Dr Stephen Hawkinghad passed away. The 76-year-old, who is credited with bringing science to the masses, spent over 50 years battling the effects of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

You may not have liked his brand of politics, but few could deny his powerful oratory skills and mass appeal. One of India’s tallest political leaders, M Karunanidhi, died in August. Karunanidhi, who was a wheelchair user, worked tirelessly for the rights of the poor, transgenders and people with disabilities.

Way before inclusion started featuring in Oscar ceremony speeches, there was the world of Marvel Comics and its superheroes. Created by Stan Lee, the superheroes with autism told every child and the world that it was OK to be different. Lee died in November.

Australian filmmaker and entertainer Quentin Kenihan dedicated his life to advocating for disabled people. Kenihan, who had brittle bone disease and used a wheelchair, travelled the world and lifted many spirits with his humour.

No one could have missed Mini-Me in the Austin Powers films. Played by Verne Troyer, who was born with a form of dwarfism, the comedy franchise owed much of its popularity to Troyer. His death in April was ruled a suicide.

Scholar John S. Schuchman, who wrote about the experiences of deaf people in Nazi Germany and wrote books that shattered stereotypes about the deaf community passed away at the age of 79.

Equally iconic was Kitty O Neil, the deaf stuntwoman and racer who was a popular action figure on American TV and film. O’Neil died in November 2018 at the age of 72.

In their lifespan they showed the immense possibilities every person holds, helping to break the notions around disability.

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