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Top 50 most influential disabled people announced

Top 50 most influential disabled people announced as Rehabilitation International World Congress comes to Edinburgh

Powerful Media and Shaw Trust have announced a list of the 50 most influential disabled people globally, ahead of an international disability empowerment conference taking place in Edinburgh, Scotland, next week. 

The inaugural Global List will be launched at the 23rd Rehabilitation International World Congress (RIWC) on Tuesday 25 October, and celebrates the achievements of 50 of the most accomplished people living with disabilities or health impairments from across America, Africa, Europe and South America. 
Entries onto the list include sporting heroes, artists, politicians, community leaders and successful business chiefs, to name just a few: 

Madam Zhang Haidi, the President of the influential Chinese Federation of Disabled People, who lives with paraplegia, has been praised for her effective disability activism.

Michael J Fox, the well-known American actor who lives with Parkinson’s disease, and who has founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.


Srikanth Bolla, a young CEO from India who founded Bollant Industries which employs disabled employees to manufacture eco-friendly consumer packaging, and is worth Rs 50 crores (circa £6.1 million or $4.5 million).

Madam Haidi, who is also an accomplished writer and translator, will this year be assuming the role of president of Rehabilitation International Global at the conclusion of the Congress on Thursday 27 October. Madam Haidi was elected to the role as the term for previous RI Global president, Jan A. Monsbakken of Norway came to an end. 

The list was chosen by the editorial team at Powerful Media which looked for individuals who make a positive impact, help change lives, campaign to make a difference, or through their careers have made an outstanding contribution to society.  

Roy O’Shaughnessy, Shaw Trust’s Chief Executive, said:

“We are extremely proud to sponsor The Global List and highlight these exceptionally talented, hardworking and inspirational people who have positively impacted so many lives. 

“To be able to launch such a publication at the 23rd Rehabilitation International World Congress, where we will be promoting disability empowerment and building towards a fully inclusive world, is a special honour.”


Katherine Deal, Editor of the Global List, added:

“We recognize that all lists such as this are ultimately subjective, but we also believe the Global List are incredible role models who are to be celebrated for their fantastic achievements. We believe also that this would still be case if they were not disabled.

“From Neema Namadamu, a Polio survivor who founded Maman Shujaa Media Centre to empower women in the Congo; to Johnathan Bastos, a Brazilian pianist who was born without arms, this list contains some of the most inspirational people that we have ever come across.”

The Rehabilitation International World Congress, which is taking place from 25-27 October at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, is a four-yearly event which brings together disabled people, policy makers, service providers and academics from across the globe. This year it is hosted by Shaw


Trust, and will focus on how to create a more inclusive and accessible world for people of all abilities and backgrounds. 
The Global List is published by Powerful Media, the London-based publishing house that also publishes The Power 100 – which showcases 100 of the UK’s most influential disabled people and includes such luminaries as Stephen Hawkins and Paralympian Ellie Simmons. 

2016 Global 50 Power List
Conti-nent Country Name Occupation Disability 
1 AF Nigeria Lucy Oguchuwku Ejike Powerlifter Polio 
2 AF South Africa/Namibia Eddie Ndopu Academic concerned with human rights Spinal muscular atrophy 
3 AF Congo Neema Namadamu Disability rights activist Polio 
4 AF Ethiopia Yetnebersh Nigussie Lawyer and disability rights activist Blind 
5 AF Ghana Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah Athlete and activist. Malformed leg 
6 AF Ghana Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie Disability rights activist and founder of Enlightening People with Disabilities in Africa Wheelchair user 
7 AF Nigeria Cobbams Asuquo Musician, producer, songwriter and lawyer Visually impaired 
8 AF South Africa Hon. Hendrietta I. Bogopane-Zulu Deputy government minister Visually impaired 
9 AM Canada Christine Gauthier Invictus Games medallist and multiple world champion Spinal and knee damage 
10 AM America Jim Abbott Athlete – Baseball Born with one hand 
11 AM America Stevie Wonder Singer/songwriter Blind 
12 AM Canada Michael J Fox Actor Parkinson’s disease 
13 AM America David Patterson 55th Governor of New York Blind 
14 AM Canada Rich Donovan Global expert in business development Cerebral Palsy 
15 AM America Trischa Zorn Most successful Paralympian ever Blind 
16 AM America Stanley Eisen Musician – KISS – rhythm guitarist Partially deaf 
17 AM America Greg Abbott Current Governor of Texas and former Texas State Attorney General Spinal and kidney damage 
18 AM America John Hockenberry Journalist, author, 4-time Emmy Award winner Spinal chord injury 
19 AM America Diance Swonk Chief Economist and senior VP at Bank One Corporation. Dyslexia 
20 AM America Marlee Matlin Academy Award- winning actress Deaf 
21 AM America Jack Chen Lawyer and Google employee Blind 
22 AU India Malini Chib Disability rights activist and author Cerebral Palsy 
23 AU India Srikanth Bolla Head of a RS 50 Crore Company Blind 
24 AU India Javed Abidi Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disable People Spina Bifida 
25 AU Sri Lanka Ajith Chrysanta Stephen Perera Chartered Chemist, scholar, former test match panel cricket umpire and author Wheelchair user 
26 AU Pakistan Malala Yousafzai Campaigner, global advocate for human rights and women’s right to education Gunshot injury 
27 AU Japan Mayumi Narita Swimmer – one of the world’s best Paralympic athletes Myelitus 
28 AU Australia Nick Vijucic Motivation speaker and filmmaker Born without arms or legs 
29 AU India Sugha Chandran International dancer Single-leg amputee 
30 AU China Zhang Madam Haidi Head of the Chinese Federation of Disabled People, writer, translator Paraplegia 
31 AU Australia Adam Hills Presenter Single-leg Amputee 
32 AU Malaysia Melvin Tong Businessman Fibro sarcoma 
33 E Italy Alex Zanardi Former F1 driver turned Para cyclist Double-leg amputee 
34 E Poland Bartek Ostalowski Racing Driver Double-arm amputee 
35 E Israel Itzhak Perlman International violinist Polio survivor 
36 E France Jean-Christophe Parisot Political scientist, disability activist Tetraplegia 
37 E Norway Ragnhild Myklebust Most successful winter Paralympian ever Wheelchair user 
38 E Germany Wolfgang Schauble Minister, former CDU party chairman Wheelchair user 
39 E Italy Andrea Bocelli Singer Blind 
40 E Germany Sabriye Tenberken Social worker, creator of Tibetan braille Blind 
41 E Turkey Esref Armagen Painter Blind 
42 E France Bernard Morin Mathematician Blind 
43 SA Jamaica Floyd Morris Jamaica Senate Leader/Radio Broadcaster Blind 
44 SA Mexico Miguel Barbosa Huerta President of the Senate Paralysis from waist-down 
45 SA Argentina Gabriela Michetti Vice President Paraplegia 
46 SA Brazil Johnathan Bastos Musician Born without arms 
47 SA Mexico Lenin Moreno Vice President and Noble Peace Prize nominee Paralysis following a shooting 
48 SA Brazil Daniel de Faria Dias Swimmer Malformed upper and lower limbs 
49 SA Mexico Raul  Montoya Executive Director – Collectivo Chuchan, painter Mental health 
50 SA Cuba Omara Durand Sprinter Visually impaired 

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