Quiz about physically disabled students.

 This is a quiz from a fundraising event for physically disabled school students at George Watson's College. The questions are based on the short descriptions of inspiring people who overcame disability as children and young people below. Answers are at the foot.



1 Whose musical feet found a path to success?

2 Who turned out to be a lot brighter than his teacher thought?



3 Which ‘Dorothy’ walks on a star?

4 Which partially-sighted teacher was delighted by a bachelor?

5 Which song launched a solo career?

6 Whose race has no finish line?

7 Whose storey had a silver lining?

8 Which singer-songwriter was an early Braveheart fan?

9 Which disabled athlete is a high flier in many fields.

10 Whose tall tales began in the borders?


Dame Evelyn Glennie

b 1965

A world famous percussionist and composer, Glennie has been deaf since the age of 12, having started to lose her hearing at 8. Despite this she became the UK’s first professional solo percussionist  

Glennie regularly plays barefoot to feel the music better and says she ‘hears’ music with parts of her body other than her ears.

Glennie, who grew up in Aberdeenshire where her father played in a ceilidh band,  became a Dame of the British Empire in 2007.



Stevie Wonder

b 1950

Legendary musician Stevie Wonder became blind due to complications caused by his premature birth.

In 1961, aged 11, Wonder was signed by Motown, singing a song he wrote himself called ‘Lonely Boy’. Since then, he has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits including ‘Superstition’ ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ and ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You.”

In 2009, Wonder became a United Nations Messenger of Peace



Marlee Matlin

b 1965

 American actress and writer Marlee Matlin is the only deaf performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, for Children of a Lesser God.

 Her deafness was diagnosed at 18 months and may be genetic. She was involved in a deaf children’s theatre group from a young age, debuting as Dorothy at the age of 7.

 She has also appeared in My Name is Earl, Family Guy and Desperate Housewives and written several books.

 In 2009, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame



Christy Brown


 Christy Brown was born in Dublin in June 1932, and suffered severe cerebral palsy, which left him paralysed in all of his limbs except his left foot.

 His mother taught him to read and paint and in later life he was able to improve his speech and motor control with therapy.

Brown was a painter, writer and poet whose novel “Down All the Days” was acclaimed as an important Irish novel.

His autobiography “My Left Foot”  was made into an award-winning film.



Helen Keller 1880-1968

Helen Keller lost both sight and hearing due to infant illness – perhaps meningitis. Her isolation was broken by her partially sighted teacher and governess Anne Sullivan who taught her to communicate through Braille hand signals.

The two women had a productive 49 year partnership until Sullivan’s death.

Keller, at age 24, became the first deafblind person to gain a Bachelor of Arts degree and spent much of her life giving speeches and lectures. She learned to “hear” people’s speech by reading their lips with her hands.




Gordon Brown, b 1951

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is blind in one eye.

During an end-of-term rugby union match at Kirkcaldy High School when he was 17, he received a kick to the head and suffered a retinal detachment. Despite treatment including several operations and weeks spent lying in a darkened room, he lost the sight in his left eye.

Later at Edinburgh University, while playing tennis, he noticed the same symptoms in his right eye. Brown underwent experimental surgery at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and his right eye was saved.



Frida Kahlo 1907-1954

 Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter renowned for striking self-portraits reflecting her pain and sorrow. She was the first Mexican artist of 20th century whose work was purchased by an international museum.

 Kahlo suffered lifelong pain and mobility issues after she contracted polio at age six.  Although she eventually regained her ability to walk, she was plagued by relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life which often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time.



Neil Fachie b 1984


 Fachie was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1984, with retinitis pigmentosa, a 
genetic eye condition that severely diminished his vision –
 but not his
 determination to succeed.

 He competed as a sprinter in the 2008 Paralympics before changing to cycling.

 Racing with Barney Storey, Fachie took silver in the kilo in the 2012 Paralympics in London.

 Neil Fachie with Craig MacLean won double gold in the kilo time trial and sprint B tandem in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

 He became an MBE in 2013



Brooke Ellison b1978

 Brooke Ellison was struck by a car in 1990 while crossing the street on her first day of middle school, resulting in being paralyzed from the neck down.

 Ellison became the first quadraplegic to graduate from Harvard. She gained a bachelor of science, magna cum laude. in cognitive neuroscience in 2000, and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2004.

In 2009, Ellison with director James Siegel created a documentary “Hope Deferred”, about embryonic stem cell research.



Robert Louis Stevenson


 The author of “Treasure Island”, “Kidnapped” and “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” as well as other much loved classics suffered from recurring illness throughout his childhood.

  Contemporaries thought he may have suffered from tuberculosis but modern medics say he probably had damaged airways, perhaps caused by a genetic condition or by infection.

  Stevenson was ill every winter with coughs and fever. Physicians advised him to move abroad for his health and he lived in France and the US, ending his life on an island in Samoa.



Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832

The inventor of the European historical novel survived a childhood bout of polio, aged 2, that left him lame.

For the good of his health, he was sent in to live in the Borders at his grandparents’ farm. Here he was taught to read by his aunt Jenny, and heard many of the tales and legends that he would draw on in his later work.

Despite his childhood problems, Scott grew to be a man of over six feet tall and of great physical endurance.


Samantha Kinghorn b.1996

The Scottish wheelchair racer was crushed by snow and ice which broke her back in 2010.

Having overcome initial difficulties, Samantha has discovered a talent for wheelchair-racing and inspirational speaking.

From the Scottish Borders, she won five gold medals at the English Disability Sport Championships and represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, coming 5th in the 1500m

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do it ‘cos you can, you really can. You can do greater things than able-bodied people sometimes.”


Steve Cunningham

 As a child, blind athlete Steve Cunningham dreamed of captaining Aston Villa. But at the age of 12 he started to lose his sight

 A world junior sprinter, Steve went on to play for the England Blind Cricket team. He trained with Aston Villa, and led the English blind football team to the World Cup. Steve’s next challenge was to become the fastest blind man on Earth. He took world speed records on land and sea, then became the world’s first blind pilot. Steve’s one handicap in life is golf …he plays off 24.


Robert Michael Hensel b1969

US citizen Robert was born with spina bifida. He is also the Guinness World Records holder for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair, covering a total distance of 6.178 miles. This was a fundraiser for wheelchair ramps.

In 2000, realizing the need to focus more on one’s abilities and less on their disabilities, Hensel and his home county of Oswego, New York, designated a week to recognise the talents and accomplishments of individuals with disabilities, known as Beyond Limitations week.


Marla Runyan, b. 1969

 US track and field athlete, Runyan developed Stargardt’s Disease, which is a form of macular degeneration that left her blind at the age of nine.

 As well as competing in the Paralympics, in 2000 she became the first legally blind athlete to compete in the able-bodied Olympic games in Sydney.  She came 8th in the 1500m and was the highest placed American woman.

 In 2002 , she was the highest places American woman in the New York marathon with a time of 2hr27.10 In 2001, she published an autobiography ‘No Finish Line: My Life As I See It’


Blind Harry 1440-1492

Blind Harry or Henry the Minstrel was a poet and singer at the court of King James IV. A man from the Lothians of humble origin, blind from birth he was well-known as a storyteller and was paid in food and clothing for his work.

He created one of the major texts of Scots literature, which influenced Burns and Scott and created the romantic legend of William Wallace, a 12 volume poem entitled: ‘The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace’


Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931

The American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison most famous for the lightbulb suffered from impaired hearing, attributed to repeated ear infections as a child.

The youngest of seven children, he struggled at school and after his teacher concluded his brain was “addled”, his mother homeschooled him. He eventually lost the hearing completely in one ear and much of the hearing in the other.

Despite this he had a ‘kaleidescope’ mind and made several important inventions  including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb.




1 Evelyn Glennie. 2 Thomas Edison. 3 Marlee Matlin. 4 Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller). 5 Lonely Boy (Stevie Wonder)

6 Marla Runyan 7 Neil Fachie. 8 Blind Harry 9 Steve Cunningham 10 Sir Walter Scott.