Successful people with disabilities

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Later on tonight millions of viewers will be tuning in to watch Lord Sugar’s index finger point to an unfortunate candidate in the board room, although we are pretty sure none of which have a physical disability.

When most people think of a disabled person the last thing that springs to mind is somebody who is successful, which of course can’t be any further than the truth. So, as The Apprentice returns to our screens this evening we thought we would bring to light a handful of people with various forms of disabilities which have achieved remarkable accomplishments...

Helen Adams Keller travelled across the globe with her teacher, Annie Sullivan campaigning for a wide range of causes which included worker’s rights and woman’s suffrage. Her hard work didn’t go unnoticed as she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, elected into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965 and, being deaf as well as blind Helen was the first disabled person to gain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

John Forbes Nash suffered severe paranoia at the age of 31, after a few visits to the doctor he was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia and believed an organisation was trying to chase him. Most people associate this form of disability with being insane, or in more derogatory terms, loopy. But Nash was far from being categorised as being stupid. In his earlier life he solved ground breaking mathematical problems and equations. Luckily with the assisted aid from medical experts Nash managed to put 2 & 2 together and was back on his road to recovery in 1970.

Christy Brown is best known for being the subject of his autobiography, My Left Foot which was later turned into a movie starring Daniel Day Lewis. Brown had severer cerebral palsy and apart from one piece of his body still functioning properly (Clue: It wasn’t his right foot!) he was incapable of any movement. Using his left foot to draw, write and communicate with others he went on to become a writer and was labelled as “…the most important Irish novel since Ulysses” by the Times newspaper.

Marla Runyan is also an author, but it wasn’t her autobiography ‘No Finish Line: My Life As I See It’ which makes her eligible for this list, but her incredible sporting achievements. At the age of 9 she was diagnosed as having a macular degeneration disability called Stargardt’s Disease which left her blind. Despite her loss of sight Marla went on to be the first blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. She also holds some impressive American records for races such as the 500m, All-female Marathon and the Heptathlon.

Sadha Chandran has an artificial leg and has danced live on television, but thankfully comparisons to Heather Mills end there. After losing her right leg in a horrific accident Sudha has defeated the odds and become a well known dancer in India. Sadha continues to be bombarded with requests to perform over the world and has collected an array of awards along the way.

So, as you can see disabled people can be pretty damn impressive and one expects the likes of Lord Sugar would sign people like these up in an instance. Fortunately for the sake of good television pleasure we expect the hopefuls in this year’s Apprentice series will never match the skills of those we have just mentioned and we look forward to another series of catfights, tempers and tears.

The Apprentice starts tonight, Wednesday 21 March 2012 on BBC1 at 9pm.