The world of STEM is a world of inclusivity and participation. We know that it is only through the constant effort and participation of people from all backgrounds and walks of life, that the finest discoveries and inventions happen year after year. In light of national disability employment month being celebrated in the USA, we have cumulated a list of the greatest minds in the STEM community, a list of people who realized that all you need to have to explore is curiosity!
Some of the most well-known inventors in history suffered from physical or mental disorders that could be categorized as impairments. These researchers promoted disability as a whole by acting as trailblazers or industry leaders in their domains.
Thomas Edison, who was born in 1847, began to experience hearing loss in his early 20s. Despite this, Edison excelled as an innovator and inventor in the field of telegraphy, which involved sending information via communication channels. In his New Jersey laboratory, he created audio equipment, the incandescent lamp, and the motion picture industry. Before he passed away, Edison was awarded 1,093 patents.
Temple Grandin battled spoken communication throughout her adolescence after receiving an autism diagnosis as a young child. Grandin achieved academic achievement and graduated with a master’s in animal science in 1975. Later, Grandin rose to prominence as a pioneer in the study of animal behaviour. She holds a PhD, has authored several books and is still an active professor at Colorado State University.
Following his diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, Ralph Braun created ground-breaking mobility devices. Braun’s experiences served as inspiration for the development of wheelchair lifts, motorized scooters, and wheelchair-accessible cars. He promoted the study of and employment of people with disabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Known as the “Father of the Mobility Movement,” Braun passed away in 2013.
Stephen Hawking, a mathematician and physicist for decades before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 21, devoted his life to working in these fields. To do research, write, and communicate, Hawking, utilized a wheelchair, voice synthesizers, and other tools. Hawking made revolutionary contributions to understanding the universe’s beginnings, black holes, radiation, and more. Before his passing in 2018, Hawking also wrote for publications taught and received various honours for his contributions to science.
Sang-Mook Lee, a Korean-born oceanographer with training, was teaching in the United States in 2006 when a traffic accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Lee’s “larger purpose” as a scientist and an educator was shaped by the event. While pursuing his studies, Lee promotes the creation of assistive technologies for science and engineering education. His work is done globally, especially in his own country of South Korea.
In all levels and disciplines of science, people with impairments learn, work, and do research. Due to their physical and mental impairments, how others perceive them, and ableist attitudes ingrained in our communities and societies, scientists with disabilities frequently encounter difficulties.
Science has been revolutionized by people with impairments. These people persisted in their pursuit of science despite obstacles from society or the prejudice of others against their disability.