Quotes about disability that make you think

Sometimes funny, sometimes quirky, sometimes poignant, sometimes passionate. Here are some quotes about disability that will make you think.

Actor RJ Mitte presenting with a microphone

“So many people try to hide their disability. They try to lock it away because they think disability is not sexy, disability is not flattering… but that’s not the case.”

“Even though you have a disability, that does not make you disabled [in other ways]. It gives you insight. It gives you knowledge. It gives you something that someone without that will never learn.”

“A lot of people think that perfection is a six foot tall, hundred-pound (1.8-metre, 45-kilogram) model girl. I don’t know what world you live in, but I don’t see girls like that on the streets too often. I do see people with disabilities and diversities, and I think that’s what we need to show as beautiful and true, even with what people consider imperfections.”

– RJ mitte, actor. The Telegraph, UK, 2014.

Sinéad Burke

“Disability is articulated as a struggle, an unnecessary burden that one must overcome to the soundtrack of a string crescendo. But disabled lives are multi-faceted – brimming with personality, pride, ambition, love, empathy, and wit.”

– Sinead Burke, writer, academic, activist and broadcaster.

Stella Young performing at the Global Atheist Convention 2012 in Melbourne, Australia

“I do not identify as a person with a disability. I’m a disabled person. And I’ll be a monkey’s disabled uncle if I’m going to apologise for that.”

“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.”

– Stella Young, comedian, journalist and activist. ABC, The Drum, 2012.

“That quote, ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’, the reason that’s bullshit is … No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshelf and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille.”

– Stella Young, comedian, journalist and activist. TEDx, 2014.

Greta Thunberg at Parliament

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower. #aspiepower”

– Greta Thunberg, climate change activist.

Jameela Jamil smiling at the camera

“I suffered from eating disorders as a teenager and so I know how damaging ‘perfect’ images in magazines can be. I was bombarded with a narrative that had no alternative. There were never any women who were celebrated for their intellect … and all of my magazines were selling me weight loss products or telling me to be thin.’

– Jameela Jamil, actress and activist. Podcast with Channel 4.

Motivational speaker and author Lizzie Velásquez at the 2017 Texas Book Festival.

“I used the people who were telling me that I couldn’t do this – to motivate me. I used their negativity to light my fire to keep going, use that, use that, use that negativity that you have in your life to make yourself better, because I guarantee you, guarantee you, you will win.

– Lizzie Velásquez activist, author, and YouTuber. TEDx, 2013.

Jamie Brewer at PaleyFest 2014 for the TV show "American Horror Story: Coven"

“When it comes to diversity and with disabilities, we always need to find a way to express who we are in our own ways.”

– Jamie Brewer, actress. ABC, 7:30 Report, 2016.

Ali Stroker interviewed by The Tony Awards in 2019

“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena — you are.”

– Ali Stroker, actress and singer, on winning a Tony Award for her role in Oklahoma!.

Lauren Potter celebrate the opening ceremony of the LA 2015 Special Olympics at the Coliseum

“I’ve had tons of bullies who would call me retarded, even on my Facebook page. It’s sad and it really hurts. I want to tell people not to use the word. Don’t say your friend’s retarded when they do something foolish. If you have a disability, keep working hard. Whatever it takes, do it, and don’t be mean to people.”

– Lauren Potter, actress. Emmy Magazine, 2011.

“I want to encourage kids to speak up, to tell their stories. That is the only way people will know what we have to go through. Believe in yourself. Someone once told me being different isn’t bad – different is just different!”

– Lauren Potter, actress. People Magazine, 2011.

Dylan Alcott playing tennis

“Everybody deserves the right to go to a restaurant. Everybody deserves the right to go on a date. Everybody deserves the right to be employed and have an opportunity. But for people with disabilities, these things aren’t there.”

– Dylan Alcott, wheelchair basketballer and tennis player, radio host and speaker. ABC news, 2018.

“I don’t get out of bed every day to play to win a tennis tournament, I honestly don’t. I do it because I love it, but it also provides me with a platform to do what I really want: which is to continue to change the perceptions around disability.”

– Dylan Alcott, wheelchair basketballer and tennis player, radio host and speaker. The Guardian, 2018.

Portrait of Joseph Merrick

“Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God;
Could I create myself anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.
If I could reach from pole to pole
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul;
The mind’s the standard of the man.”

– Joseph Merrick, known as ‘The Elephant Man’

Susan Boyle singing at the Edinburgh Festival Theater, July 12, 2013

“[With] Asperger’s you just have to make people aware that sometimes you have to go at a certain pace, don’t be too bombarded with things. At the very beginning I was too bombarded.”

– Susan Boyle, singer. A Current Affair, 2019.

Dan Aykroyd in New Hampshire, February 2009.

“I was diagnosed with Tourette’s at 12. I had physical tics, nervousness and made grunting noises and it affected how outgoing I was. I had therapy which really worked and by 14 my symptoms eased. I also have Asperger’s but I can manage it. It wasn’t diagnosed until the early Eighties when my wife persuaded me to see a doctor. One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement — I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born.”

– Dan Aykroyd, actor. Interview with Sarah Ewing, www.dailymail.co.uk. December 10, 2013.

Helen Keller holding a flower

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…”

― Helen Keller, writer and activist. The Open Door

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

– Dr. Stephen Shore, professor with autism

Temple Grandin’s talk at TED 2010.

“The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes.”

“Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.”

– Dr. Temple Grandin, professor with autism

[1]. By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (RJ Mitte Uploaded by maybeMaybeMaybe) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
[2]. World Economic Forum [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
[3]. Own work [Public domain]
[4]. European Parliament from EU [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
[5]. Daniel Ogren [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
[6]. aitchisons from United States [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
[7]. Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
[8]. iDominick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
[9]. The Tony Awards Youtube Channel [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]
[10]. Eric Garcetti [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
[11]. By robbiesaurus from Smithtown, NY, USA (Dylan Alcott (AUS)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
[12]. Wasforgas [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
[13]. Rnunezart [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
[14]. Los Angeles Times; restored by User:Rhododendrites [Public domain]
[15]. Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]