Institute on Disabilities at Temple University


#visionariesaremade - Father's Day 2017

June 2017

Visionaries are not born; they're made.

What makes someone a visionary?

The fathers in these photographs are typical dads; none would describe themselves as visionaries. Yet, as parents of a child with a disability, each was transformed from father to advocate.

Someone once said that the quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family. The fathers depicted in these photos are visionaries because they see possibility where others may not.

This Fathers Day, please join the Institute on Disabilities in celebrating the incredible dads who inspire us every day.

Ben and Yacine

Studio photo of Ben and Yacine
Photo by Cecilia and Jacob Lee

Ben: Yacine is the kind of human being I'm not. He's better. Because I had him, maybe I learned what a human being really is. He's nice, happy; he brings joy with him. Everywhere around him is love.

I'm a teacher and I'm around teenagers all the time. I never have those teenage problems with him.

Yacine has a lot of challenges in his life. He has worked very hard in school and had accomplished a lot and I give him credit for that. Since he was very young he always worked hard and faced challenges. He learned to play piano. He has always been in a regular classroom; he has been included all the time.

Parenting a child with a disability... it is different from the practical perspective. There are a lot of challenges, a lot of work. When you have a child with disability you double the work - maybe more. Sometimes it's because of the disability and sometimes it's because of social barriers - perceptions of disabilities. But it has not been difficult for me, for in my experience - despite the hard work - Yacine has brought joy. I didn't have another typical child to compare with.

Because of Yacine, my life has been much better emotionally. [The difficulty] is not the parenting, it's the society - still. Even as things are better, there is still that. For him it has been hard. For everything he has done and accomplished, it took twice the time for him, as compared to a typical child. Now he's in college; a typical child would be finished now, he's 27 still dealing with education. He has been at the student's desk for 22 years.

Yacine: I am the son of a teacher who used to work in the school district of Philadelphia. He's my lawyer and my advocate. Sometimes we listen to music together in the car, when we are home we watch TV, eat lunch have dinner. Every morning we eat breakfast, I put my hand on his shoulder and say "good morning dada". We hang out in clubs and bars.

He's intelligent, smart; sometimes he can read my mind. He knows what I'm talking about now! At home, our food is Algerian food from our country. And French. My dad speaks four different language. He speaks Arabic and French when we're home, and when he's in his class he speaks Spanish and English also. And he's a nice guy. He's a cool dude with cool glasses.

And I have the most beautiful sisters in the world!

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service