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Black History Month: Highlighting African Americans with Disabilities who Defied Expectations, Bringing Better Outcomes for All

Some celebrities and business leaders are using their voice to share their stories, educating people about both visible and invisible disabilities. They are defying the statistics and have remained highly successful with their disabilities. These role models make a big difference in setting high expectations for youth with disabilities. People with disabilities of all backgrounds can be amongst the highest achievers on earth. Harriet Tubman had Epilepsy, actress Halle Berry lives with diabetes, business leader and Shark Tank superstar Daymond John is dyslexic and Stevie Wonder is blind. Each of them is a positive role model for success. They are perfect candidates for RespectAbility's #RespectTheAbility campaign, which is shining a light on individuals with disabilities who are succeeding in their chosen careers.

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Lois Curtis: One Woman with Disabilities Fight for Freedom For All
- Ryan Knight, RespectAbility Spring 2018 Fellow

Lois Curtis


People with intellectual and mental disabilities can thank Lois Curtis for paving the way for them to live in the community receiving the services they need. In what was called "the most important decision for people with disabilities in history," the Olmstead Decision justified the right for people with disabilities to live independently. 

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 First Deaf African American Lawyer Claudia Gordon, Anti-Discrimination Advocate 
- Tameir Yeheyes, RespectAbility Spring 2018 Fellow

Claudia Gordon

Claudia Gordon is recognized as one of former President Barack Obama's key advisors for disability issues. She was also the first deaf African American lawyer to graduate law school and pursue a career devoted to helping individuals with disabilities. Today she works in a senior role at Sprint, a company with many accessibility features that enable people who are deaf to communicate.

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 Harriet Tubman, Legendary Poet and Civil Rights Activist with Epilepsy, Inspires Generations
- Tameir Yeheyes, RespectAbility Spring 2018 Fellow

 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is known as one of the most influential leaders of our nation. She was a former slave turned abolitionist who bravely risked her life to free both slaves and her own family members through the underground railroad. When Tubman was a teenager, she acquired a traumatic brain injury when a slave owner struck her in the head. This resulted in her developing epileptic seizures.

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Olympic & Disability Champion Simone Biles Makes History While Mesmerizing Many
- Tameir Yeheyes, RespectAbility Spring 2018 Fellow