Hawking’s death prompts debate on disability language

The death this week of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was mourned by millions of fans around the world. His passing also prompted several important conversations about how his disabilities should be discussed in the media, especially in the context of his remarkable professional achievements.

Several disability advocates on Twitter, such as Alice Wong, recommended writers “avoid subjective language” such as “suffered from ALS” and focus on Hawking’s scientific contributions without turning them into “inspiration porn.” Andrew Gurza, a self-described “Professional Queer Cripple” and creator of the podcast “Disability After Dark” wrote an opinion essay for Men’s Health explaining why wheelchair use shouldn’t be described as “confining” or something Hawking was “freed from.”

In an article for the Los Angeles Times, science reporter Jessica Roy quotes several disability experts who agreed Hawking’s advocacy for disability awareness should be more visible. In an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio Lawrence Carter-Long emphasized that Hawking didn’t “overcome his disability to achieve the things he did,” but instead he accomplished them “while he was disabled.”


Michigan Flyer AirRide controversy: Detroit airport spokesman addresses beefs about bus stop move

A Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman defends a decision to move the Michigan Flyer AirRide and SMART bus stops to the Ground Transportation Center, which seniors, wheelchair users and others complain is less convenient. Michigan Flyer officials complain that a plan to move its stop at the McNamara Terminal, which serves Delta and Air France fliers, has several disadvantages. Read more

The New York Times

A Moving Glass Box Conquers Uneven Terrain at a Subway Station

A new elevator at an above-ground New York City subway station is poised to “open transportation to the city,” according to an official with the advocacy group Disability in Action. The ribbon was cut at the elevator on the Dyckman Street station in Upper Manhattan last week. Edith Prentiss with Disability in Action said the newly accessible stop gives riders in wheelchairs access to “the entire eastern side of Washington Heights and Inwood.” Read more.