There are days when our disabilities feel debilitating. From physical to cognitive limitations, seemingly easy activities most people take for granted can feel like Mount Everest. Yet whether you were born with a disability or you develop one, it’s important to remember that your condition is not the end of life.
For motivation, we’ve brought a handful of stories to the table not only to inspire but to remind us that doors will open to those whose perseverance paves a path.
Henry Webler Chased His Love for Science in Spite of His Lack of Sight
If anyone knows the fight for accessibility, it’s Henry Webler. His heart had no room for limitations when it became enamored with science at a young age. While in high school his own teacher tried to dissuade him from pursuing a career in science due to his blindness, Webler refused to take no for an answer.
He knew what he wanted and he was determined to do whatever necessary to make that dream come to fruition. Yet there were hurdles; many hurdles. In a world where accessibility isn’t universal to every environment and field, you have to speak up and find solutions for your limitations if you want to succeed.
Webler realized this, but he wasn’t afraid to be innovative and vocal about his needs. Eventually, the same teacher he doubted became one of his biggest advocates as he carved a path that led to success.
Now 30, Webler has a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California and is the Founder of the nonprofit Accessible Science. The organization provides resources and tools to blind students so they can participate in the exploration and learning of science in spite of their limitations.
Mandy Harvey Finds the Music Even After She Lost Her Hearing
When Mandy Harvey sings, her pitch is perfect. Her whole body seems to immerse itself in her music as she weaves a profound blend of melody and lyrics. A natural musician, you would never know while listening to her performance that she is deaf.
Harvey wasn’t born deaf but rather lost her hearing at the pivotal age of eighteen, just as she was chasing her dreams through the vocal music education program at Colorado State University.
It’s a tragedy that would stop many in their tracks. Understandably so, for how can you learn to create an art tied to the sense that was stolen from you by connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3?
Harvey left school when her hearing obstructed her education and for two years fell into a deep depression. Yet her heart refused to give up. Harvey found a way to find the music inside of her again. She had to; it was a part of who she was.
Using a visual tuner, she sang until the device turned green. Her father heard and wept, and Harvey realized her gift hadn’t left her. It was still there and she could embrace it. The epiphany began a new chapter that started in clubs and music halls until it led to the stage of America’s Got Talent.
Through the challenges and loss, she rediscovered herself and the career she had yearned for nearly all her life.
Finding Open Doors in Spite of Your Disability
For some, Webler and Harvey’s stories may feel unobtainable. We marvel at these individuals as anomalies, as if their achievements are exceptions to the rule. Yet the truth is that while we may have our limitations, there is power in perseverance. Webler and Harvey are both everyday people who simply refused to give up.
As Dreamscape Foundation Founder Joe Sehwani said after he lost his vision, “I had only lost my sight – not my vision. In fact, LHON gave me a clarity I didn’t have before. It gave my life purpose.”
We can either view our disability as a weakness or we can find new vision by carving a path for ourselves and our desires. While the challenges may not make it easy, the satisfaction of achieving your dream is worth it.
Will you fight to make them accessible?