Successful Entrepreneurs Who Soared Despite Living With Disabilities


Successful Entrepreneurs Who Soared Despite Living With Disabilities

More than 5.3 million Canadians are living with a disability that has the potential to affect their independence and quality of life, according to Statistics Canada. While some disabilities are obvious to the naked eye, there are others, such as learning disabilities, which are often undetected by others. While living with a disability can pose some unique challenges, countless individuals contribute extensively to not only their immediate communities but to the world as well. When it comes to the business landscape, there are a number of entrepreneurs that have become hugely successful in their respective industries, despite living with a disability.

Ralph Braun made a difference for wheelchair users

Ralph Braun was a young boy when he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy back in 1947. Although doctors told the Braun family that Ralph would never be independent, he was determined to prove them wrong and refused to live his life confined to a wheelchair. In 1966, Braun both designed and produced the first wheelchair-accessible van in the world. He also went on to create the first accessible minivan in 1991. As the founder of the Braun Corporation, Braun labored tirelessly to better the lives of people with disabilities. Prior to his death in 2013, then-President Barack Obama named him as a ‘champion of change’, a very well-deserved title for someone who made the world more accessible to millions of wheelchair users.

Glenda Watson Hyatt soars despite CP diagnosis

Glenda Watson Hyatt was born with cerebral palsy (CP). She has a severe speech impairment which sees her make use of computerized voices for communication, and can only type using her left thumb. Glenda might have begun her school education in a tiny Special Education class, but she ended up flying through high school as part of a regular class. Apart from being a college graduate, she is also the owner of an online consultancy business. Additionally, Hyatt is a celebrated speaker across Canada and the author of a best-seller entitled, ‘I’ll Do It Myself’. According to the Cerebral Palsy Family Network, support networks allow those affected by CP to share their experience and make connections with those with similar experiences. Thanks to resources like these, patients with CP, such as Glenda, are continuously inspired to live their best lives and succeed despite the odds.

Dyslexia was no match for Richard Branson

Although dyslexia made Richard Branson’s academic career excruciatingly difficult, it did not stop him from becoming one of the world’s most celebrated entrepreneurs. At school, Branson’s teachers were of the opinion that he was either lazy or stupid. When he did manage to write a very insightful piece for an alternative school paper, his headmaster responded by saying, “Congratulations, Branson. I predict that you will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Branson went on to found the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which has control of over more than 400 companies across various industries. While his disability did present some obstacles, Branson believes that is also made him a better business owner, as he was forced to delegate tasks he wasn’t strong at and focus on the bigger picture of a growing business instead.

Countless individuals soar to great heights despite living with a disability.  Even in the business world, an increasing number of people with both physical and learning disabilities are proving to be very successful entrepreneurs.

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