Josh Blue, a comedian with cerebral palsy (CP), is changing the way people perceive disabilities. He never let his disability stop him. Now, he’s empowering others with CP to chase their dreams and overcome the idea that they are limited in any way.
Becoming a Comedian With Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control certain muscles, causing a variety of mobility problems and other impairments. Blue decided that since people were already staring at him because of his disability, he should give them a better reason to stare. He pursued his passion for comedy after discovering his talent for making people laugh.
Now, the successful comedian shares his point of view with people all over the world. He hopes to give each audience a new perspective on cerebral palsy. Blue drives home the fact that people with disabilities want to be heard and treated like every other person.
People with disabilities are just people—people who want to share their talents and express their ideas like anyone else.
People With Disabilities Face Stigma in Society
Unfortunately, some people with CP have been led to view their disability as a barrier that limits their opportunities for success. Though most people mean well, they tend to pity those with disabilities. Society often suggests that it takes great courage for someone with a disability to get through their daily life. People usually expect less from them, and this can be extremely discouraging.
Blue suggests that it’s important that non-disabled people avoid viewing these stories—like his—as inspirational. Too often, people think ‘if someone with a disability can do this, so can I.’ This perception only reinforces the damaging idea that people with disabilities face insurmountable barriers. When exposed to this idea, people with CP start to believe it themselves.
People With Disabilities Are Just Like Everyone Else
Many people feel awkward, nervous, or uncomfortable around people they perceive as different. This can cause people with disabilities to feel like outcasts. Putting an end to the stigma around disabilities helps everyone feel more included in society.
Normalizing disability is important for empowering people with CP to pursue their goals instead of thinking their limitations will hold them back. Hearing other’s success stories helps people with disabilities realize they have the same opportunities as anyone else.
Advocates hope the media continues to show people with disabilities as healthy and happy individuals, intent on pursuing their passions. In the end, successful individuals with disabilities help the public learn to feel more comfortable and accepting. For example, Blue says:
“The thing about my comedy is that I’m so comfortable with my disability that you don’t have a right to be uncomfortable.”
People with CP who have gone on to achieve success are helping bring this normalization into the eye of the public. As a result, there’s an increasing awareness that people with disabilities can, and do, accomplish great things. Stories like Blue’s show people that disabilities are not obstacles to success.
Famous People Show That Disability Is Not Inability
Blue isn’t the only person with disabilities who has been in the spotlight for their achievements. Abby Nicole Curran made history in 2008 when she became the first contestant with a disability in Miss USA. People had told her she shouldn’t and couldn’t compete. She later started an original pageant for girls with disabilities, encouraging them to go after their dreams.
Dan Keplinger, an accomplished artist with cerebral palsy, turned to art as a method of expression. He shares his emotions and perception of disability with the world through his artistic talent.
Bonner Paddock became the first person with CP to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and complete the Ironman Triathlon. He wrote a memoir about his experiences smashing barriers and started a foundation to provide therapies for disabled children.
Finally, Bryan Bjorklund has dealt with several life challenges in addition to his cerebral palsy, facing homelessness and hospitalizations. Still, he worked hard in school and became a college graduate, determined not to let his disability hold him back.
These individuals don’t let disabilities define them. Instead, they live to fight stereotypes, prove people wrong, and show society that disabilities are not barriers to success. With increasing public awareness, the hope is that more and more people will feel comfortable and confident following their dreams.