Excerpt from: Disability Blog (click for full article)
My name is John W. Quinn and I was born with cerebral palsy. I couldn’t walk on my own until the age of four, due to being partially paralyzed on one side of my body and my left foot being two and a half sizes smaller than my right. I wore eye patches to help correct my vision and heavy orthopedic shoes to straighten my spine, and endured grueling physical therapy sessions all throughout grade school to build up my “pipe cleaner” limbs.
I kept this all a secret in order to join the United States Navy. In fact, I maintained the secret of my disability during my entire 20-year military career. No one knew I had cerebral palsy as I served onboard battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers. I stood every watch, participated in every drill and fought every fire. I performed at the highest levels and retired in 2002 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer – the second highest enlisted rank you can hold in the Navy. It was an honor to serve my country.
I couldn’t meet the standard of fitness that the military needed from their recruits. So what did I do? I went home and started doing that duck walk exercise down in my basement. I did it every day for a year. Then, I went back and took the physical again. I was the best duck walker in the building and passed with flying colors. It took hard work, sweat, determination and a big lie, but I was finally able to gain inclusion into the Navy and have the career of my dreams.
When I use the word “inclusion” in relation to the working world, many people believe that I’m asking for a lowering of a standard to fit a need. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inclusion to me is the opportunity to hit the same standard as anyone else. Sadly, many people, especially those with disabilities, do not even get the chance to show what they can do.