[Image description - a series of tweets by @EbThen that say:
I should’ve gone to bed before the Stephen Hawking news broke.
Seeing a headline describing him as having “overcome” a “debilitating disease” to “publish books on the mysteries of the universe” is making me grumpy.
Stephen Hawking was an exceptionally privileged white English man who had access to the necessary supports to successfully navigate a world that puts little importance on making itself accessible.
I mean, he did pretty amazing stuff but it wasn’t amazing because he had ALS and used a wheelchair and AAC. Those are just things.
The amazing stuff Stephen Hawking did was amazing because he thought and said amazing things.
Stop being amazed that a few Disabled people do awesome world-changing stuff. Start wondering why more of us don’t.
It’s not because a wheelchair and AAC somehow get in the way of doing theoretical physics. It’s because a lot of us deal with ridiculously huge access barriers.
Also stop only valuing Disabled people who do awesome world-changing stuff. We don’t need to be supercrips to be worthwhile.
Disabled people are allowed to be normal schlubs and not be treated like that means we’re failures.
When you write a headline that implies ALS, a wheelchair and machine-facilitated speech are natural and expected barriers to being a successful scientist, you’re telling on yourself.
Those circumstances aren’t inevitable barriers to doing all sorts of science.
What’s frustrating is that we’re talking about a Disabled person who had so much opportunity and access to excellent supports and tools and people still talk about that like it’s tragedy.
And I’m thinking how many folks I know could benefit from those things.
World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76
The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including ‘A Brief History of Time’.
At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.
In his 2013 memoir he described how he felt when first diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
“I felt it was very unfair - why should this happen to me,” he wrote. “At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realise the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life.”