Quotes and a Story

Here are some quotes that I’ve gathered, that may help us re-think or change our viewpoint or see dis-ABILITY in a different light. I found the story at the end by chance it’s really worth a read. If you have a favorite quote or story that you would like to share, post it in the comments.


There is only one way to look at things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“[by] this most sorrowful way I was compelled to tread, I learned respect and reverence for every human mind. It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considered less, as a human being, than any other, and each must be given his place and a safety in the world. I might never have learned this in any other way. I might’ve gone on in the arrogance of my own intolerance for those less able than myself. My child taught me humanity.” ~Pearl S. Buck, The Child Who Never Grew, 2nd edition

There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.” – Robert M. Hensel

“Being unconscious is the ultimate disability.” – Jessa Gamble

“Employers have recognized for some time that it’s smart business to have a diverse workforce – one in which many views are represented and everyone’s talents are valued. Well, disability is part of diversity.” – Thomas Perez

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” –Stephen Hawking

The problem is not the person’s disability…The problem is society’s view of the person’s abilities. ~ Unknown


The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you.”Easter Seals

It’s not our disabilities, it’s our abilities that count.” – Chris Burke

Inclusion elevates all.” – Elaine Hall

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability.” –  Sharon Angle

“You play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile.” – Christopher Reeves

Because I’m able to bring my all to work, I’m able to give my all at work.” – Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez

People with disabilities deserve the chance to build a life for themselves in the communities which they choose to live.” –Barack Obama

Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.” – C.S. Lewis

“Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life.” –Emma Thompson

“I have a Disability yes that’s true, but all that really means is I may have to take a slightly different path than you.” –Robert M. Hensel

I don’t have a dis-ability, I have a different-ability.” –Robert M. Hensel

Know me for my abilities, not my disability.” –Robert M. Hensel


“I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.” –Robert M. Hensel

“I am mentally Bifocal.” ~ Pearl S. Buck

“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” –Stevie Wonder

““Handicaps are really to be used another way to benefit yourself and others.” –Stevie Wonder

Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world – making the most of one’s best.” –Harry Emerson Fosdick

“Disability is natural. We must stop believing that disabilities keep a person from doing something. Because that’s not true . . . Having a disability doesn’t stop me from doing anything.” –Benjamin Snow, Grade 8, Woodland Park, Colorado, in his essay “Attitudes About People with Disabilities”

“To sit there and tell anybody they can’t do something because of a disability, I think that’s ridiculous.” –Pat McDonald, who uses a wheelchair and has a goal of playing on the PGA Tour


I was slightly brain damaged at birth, and I want people like me to see that they shouldn’t let a disability get in the way. I want to raise awareness – I want to turn my disability into ability.” ~Susan Boyle

Use the skills that I have got.

Do not focus on what I have not.

Of course, I am aware of my limitation.

Yet, I am a part of God’s wonderful creation.

William E. Lightbourne

The message I’ll share…is that inclusion is extremely important for kids with and without disabilities.”
Clay Aiken

Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.
William J. Brennan, Jr.

We, the one’s who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has, and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as a handicap, but as a well intact human being.”
Robert M. Hensel

Limitations only go so far.
Robert M. Hensel


“The severity of one’s disability does not determine their level of potential. the greatest barriers that persons with disabilities have to over come are not  steps or curbs, it’s expectations.” ~ Karen Clay

We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

No disability or dictionary out there, is capable of clearly defining who we are as a person.”– Robert M Hensel

Try not to associate bodily defect with mental, my good friend, except for a solid reason– Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

“The test of civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.” ~ Pearl S. Buck

“Labor should not be about creating monuments on hills or statues in parks. Labor’s monuments and statues are when a young person with disability can get access to the ordinary life that others take for granted.” – Bill Shorten

When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.– Yvonne Pierre


“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” Martina Navratilova

The world has a fast-growing problematic disability, which forges bonds in families, causes people to communicate in direct and clear ways, cuts down meaningless social interaction, pushes people to the limit with learning about themselves, whilst making them work together to make a better world. It’s called Autism – and I can’t see anything wrong with it, can you? Boy I’m glad I also have this disability!– Patrick Jasper Lee

“I discovered early that the hardest thing to overcome is not a physical disability but the mental condition which it induces. The world, I found, has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily.” Alexander de Seversky

If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.– Susan Wendell

When you have a disability, knowing that you are not defined by it is the sweetest feeling.”– Anne Wafula Strike

“The battle to find a workplace that’s wheelchair accessible is a feat in itself, let alone an employer who’s going to be cool about employing someone with a disability in a job you actually want to do.” – Stella Young

“We think we know what it’s all about; we think that disability is a really simple thing, and we don’t expect to see disabled people in our daily lives.” – Stella Young

Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized.”– AJ Withers


“The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.” – Warwick Davis

Consider the following four dead-end kids. One was spanked by his teachers for bad grades and a poor attitude. He dropped out of school at 16. Another failed remedial English and came perilously close to flunking out of college. The third feared he’d never make it through school – and might not have without a tutor. The last finally learned to read in third grade, devouring Marvel comics, whose pictures provided clues to help him untangle the words – These four losers are, respectively, Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, John Chambers, and David Boies.

“Whenever something goes wrong or you find yourself at a disadvantage, often the best way to handle it is to turn a negative into a positive.” –Sir Richard Branson

Nobody’s good in everything. Advantages and disadvantages come in many forms – Charles Schwab

It would surprise you how many government and business leaders live with dyslexia. Some people view it as a weakness and maybe it is…Because of my weakness I’ve learned other ways to accomplish the same goal with faster speed.” -John Chambers

Reading has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s just one way of getting information. The important thing is how a person processes that information, the kind of person we are, the contributions we make, and the kind of utility we have for society.” –David Boies

“Life is not a timed examination, there are very few times in life when what really matters is whether you can do something in 50 minutes, as opposed to 75. What matters is how well you’re able to do it.” –David Boies

If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.” – Helen Keller

Enable the Disabled; Translate Disability into Ability; Capability, a winning Opportunity-Indeed a Reality” – Dr Veena Kumari

I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist.” – Max Lerner

“See the person, not the label.” – Dr. Temple Grandin

The world needs different kinds of minds to work together.” – Dr. Temple Grandin

“It is so important to enable people to use their Abilities and TALENTS to support themselves.” – Dr. Temple Grandin

We all have a disability of some kind; all are lacking in one way or another. Saul has an injury to his leg. What if his personality was deformed? How much worse if his soul was lame? Preachers or teachers look for the good in all of us. (Bless them for doing so.) I don’t see a cripple. I haven’t met anyone yet who isn’t handicapped in some way. So what’s the big deal? Don’t hide your deformity. Wear it like a Purple Heart.” – Georgiann Baldino


“Concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”– Stephen Hawking

Americans believe that people should work hard and get ahead on their own, but when disaster strikes and they need help with retirement or disability, Americans as a whole should come to their aid.” – Jacob Hacker

One always overcompensates for disabilities. I’m thinking of having my entire body surgically removed.”  – Douglas Adams

“It was ability that mattered, not disability, which is a word I’m not crazy about using.” –Marlee Matlin

I have often been asked, Do not people bore you? I do not understand quite what that means. I suppose the calls of the stupid and curious, especially of newspaper reporters, are always inopportune. I also dislike people who try to talk down to my understanding. They are like people who when walking with you try to shorten their steps to suit yours; the hypocrisy in both cases is equally exasperating.” – Helen Keller

 Having no expectations shows pity, which shows sadness, sorrow & regret. A child with a disability needs support. Stand behind him, champion and back him! Believe in him and have expectations! They inspire hope, excitement, eagerness and success! Which would you want others to give you?” – Joan Scanlon-Dise


“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”
― Fred RogersThe World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. “ – Fred Rogers

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” – Michael J. Fox

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking your potential.”— By Winston Churchill

People with disabilities have abilities too and this is what this course is all about, making sure that those abilities blossom and shine so that all the dreams you have can come true.” — By Mary McAleese

“It is our culture that disables. When one is disabled, the problem is not really that they have impairments and social skill deficits. The issue at stake is that they live in an ‘ableist’ culture that rarely affords them the space or opportunity to make their unique contribution to society and does not lift up the value of choosing them as friends.” [or employees] – Ben ConnerAmplifying Our Witness (2012)

“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.” – Albert Einstein

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I learn. Involve me and I remember.” -Benjamin Franklin


It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” ~Martin Luther King, jr.

STEVIE:  A Trucker’s Story

Author Unknown

If this doesn’t light your fire … your wood is wet!   I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie.

His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally

handicapped employee and wasn’t sure I wanted one. I wasn’t sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He

was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn’t

worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don’t generally care who buses tables as long as

the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned

me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their

napkins for fear of catching some dreaded “truck stop germ” the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense

accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be

uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn’t have worried. After the

first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had

adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn’t care what the rest of the customers thought

of him. He was like a 21-year-old kid in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in

his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill

was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table

until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the

other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully

bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he

thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his

job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met. Over time, we

learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived

on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped

to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid

him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group

home. That’s why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that

Stevie missed work. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart.

His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this

wasn’t unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be

back at work in a few months. A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that

he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little

dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Marvin Ringers, one of our regular trucker customers, started

at the sight of this 50- year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table Frannie blushed,

smoothed her apron and shot Marvin a withering look. He grinned. “OK, Frannie, what was that all about?” he

asked. “We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.” “I was wondering where he was. I

had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?” Frannie quickly told Marvin and the other two drivers

sitting at his booth about Stevie’s surgery, and then sighed: “Yeah, I’m glad he is going to be OK,” she said. “But I

don’t know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they’re barely getting by as it

is.” Marvin nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn’t had time to

round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn’t want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables

that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of

paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face. “What’s up?” I asked. “I didn’t get that table where

Marvin and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pete and Tony were sitting there when I got back

to clean it off,” she said. “This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup” She handed the napkin to me, and

three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed “Something For

Stevie.” “Pete asked me what that was all about,” she said, “so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and

everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.” She handed

me another paper napkin that had “Something For Stevie” scrawled on its outside.. Two $50 bills were tucked

within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: “truckers.” That was

three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement

worker said he’s been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn’t matter at all that it was

aholiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had

forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in

the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn’t stop

grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were

waiting. “Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,” I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. “Work can wait for a

minute. To celebrate your coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!” I led them toward a large

corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched

through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join

the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner

plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. “First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean

up this mess,” I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the

napkins. It had “Something for Stevie” printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name

printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. “There’s more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all

from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. “Happy Thanksgiving.” Well, it got real

noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know

what’s funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big smile

on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

(DAG-Disability Advocate Gerard)