Did you know that Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, was almost entirely deaf in both ears (1)? How about that Albert Einstein, the creator of the Theory of Relativity, likely had Asperger’s syndrome (2)? So many world-changing innovations have come from the minds of individuals with disabilities, and we want to highlight some of these stars who have shaped the last century (3,4).
Ralph Braun (1940 – 2013)
Ralph Braun was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a boy and later lost his ability to walk (5). He would go on to found an entire company devoted to mobility products called BraunAbility. He manufactured a motorized scooter, which he called the Tri-Wheeler. He also revolutionized the mobility industry by creating the first automobile wheelchair lift. This invention would allow individuals in wheelchairs to get anywhere they needed to go. They were also able to use public transportation, as BraunAbility wheelchair lifts began to appear on buses and trains. BraunAbility was the only company in the nation whose dealers would evaluate the circumstances and needs of individuals in order to find the best mobility options for them.
Farida Bedwei (1979 – )
Farida Bedwei was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age one, and went on to become a software engineer and the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Logiciel, a Ghanaian financial software company (6). She invented a cloud software platform that is used by 130 micro-finance companies across Ghana. In 2013, South Africa’s CEO Magazine named Bedwei the most influential woman in government and business in Africa for the financial sector.
Stacy Zoern (1980 – )
Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Stacy Zoern has never been able to walk (7). After writing a memoir, achieving a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, speaking on disabilities at numerous conferences and events, and establishing herself in patent litigation, Zoern decided to pursue a new endeavor. In 2010, she founded Kenguru, Inc. and designed an accessible electric car. People in wheelchairs can easily wheel into these electric cars and operate them fully while in their chairs.
Christian Boer (1981 – )
Christian Boer had many difficulties with reading and class work as a child because of his dyslexia (8). During his time at HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, Holland, Boer designed his own font specifically for people with dyslexia. The font is called Dyslexie, and it includes asymmetrical letters and ones that aren’t uniform like other fonts. For example, two letters that dyslexic individuals often confuse in standard fonts are “b” and “d.” In Dyslexie, “b” is much narrower at the top than “d” is, so the two are much easier to tell apart. Also, all of the letters in Dyslexie font are thicker at the bottom, which anchors them to the page and keeps dyslexic individuals from flipping them over while reading them.
Temple Grandin (1947 – )
Temple Grandin is a prominent speaker and author with autism (9). She has always been passionate about animals and has written many books on animal treatment and safety. She is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Beyond this, she works as a consultant on animal welfare and livestock handling equipment design. She has created many new and innovative animal care treatments. She was on the Time 100, the list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.
Geerat Vermeij (1946 – )
Geerat Vermeij is an evolutionary biologist who has been blind since childhood (10). He is a professor of marine ecology and paleoecology at the University of California, Davis. He researches and chronicles the evolution of molluscs. Through his studies, he has prompted the field of paleobiology to acknowledge the influence creatures have on each other’s evolutionary fates. Vermeij received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992 and the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.
About the HIE Help Center and ABC Law Centers
The HIE Help Center is run by ABC Law Centers, a medical malpractice firm exclusively handling cases involving HIE and other birth injuries. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience with this type of law, and have been advocating for children with HIE and related disabilities since the firm’s inception in 1997.
We are passionate about helping families obtain the compensation necessary to cover their extensive medical bills, loss of wages (if one or both parents have to miss work in order to care for their child), assistive technology, and other necessities.
If you suspect your child’s HIE may have been caused by medical negligence, please contact us today to learn more about pursuing a case. We provide free legal consultations, during which we will inform you of your legal options and answer any questions you have. Moreover, you would pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we obtain a favorable settlement.
You are also welcome to reach out to us with inquiries that are not related to malpractice. We cannot provide individualized medical advice, but we’re happy to track down informational resources for you.
- Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.nps.gov/edis/faqs.htm
- Muir, H. (n.d.). Einstein and Newton showed signs of autism. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3676-einstein-and-newton-showed-signs-of-autism/
- McGlensey, M. (n.d.). 10 Inventions Revolutionizing the Lives of People With Disabilities. Archived, from https://web.archive.org/web/20150212011616/https://themighty.com/2015/01/10-inventions-revolutionizing-the-lives-of-people-with-disabilities/
- Organization. (2013, October 22). 10 Majorly Successful People With Disabilities. Retrieved December 9, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/famous-people-with-disabilities_n_4142930.html
- Ralph Braun, Founder of BraunAbility. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://www.braunability.com/commercial/ralph-braun.html
- Said-Moorhouse, L. (2015, February 13). This computer genius defeated her disability with tech. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/13/africa/farida-bedwei-ghanaian-software-genius/index.html
- Stacy Zoern Goad. (2018, June 25). Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://raisingwheels.com/project/stacy-zoern-goad/
- Gray, R. (2017, December 05). Future – The typeface that helps dyslexics read. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20171204-the-typeface-that-helps-dyslexics-read
- About Temple Grandin. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2018, from https://www.templegrandin.com/
- Geerat Vermeij, Evolutionary Biologist. (2014, March 24). Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.shapeoflife.org/scientist/geerat-vermeij-evolutionary-biologist