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Mexican Advocate Works to Challenge Beliefs and Change Attitudes About Disability Around the World

by Aura Hernández, Oklahoma City, OK

Hernandez gesturing with her right foot during a speech

Macías Hernández gestures during a speech she made at Oklahoma City Community College in April 2005

Hernandez signing autographs with her right foot after a presentation

Macías Hernández signs autographs following the presentation

"Life becomes more special when we do something for others – for people, for a country, for an institution or for a dream" – Adriana Irene Macías Hernández

Adriana Irene Macías Hernández is the personification of triumph over adversity and limitation. She does not have arms, but she has the strength of character and imagination to reaffirm the beauty of life. And she's doing it here and now. An eloquent speaker, Adriana is constantly addressing conferences and making speeches in different parts of the world to motivate people to realize their dreams. Ever since she was a child Adriana has been working to protect people's human rights. Her thesis for the Technological University of Mexico urged for the passage of a law to protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Macias Hernández has a degree in Law and a masters in Human Resources Administration. She has made many presentations including an address to the Senate of Mexico, in commemoration of the International Day of the Woman; a speech to the Secretary of Work and Social Welfare in the presence of Mexican President Vicente Fox on the International Day on Disability; presentations before the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico, the Security and Justice Congress in Mexico and a speech during the International Congress on Disability. Macías Hernández also has participated in many television program including ‘Don Francisco,' ‘Otro Rollo,' ‘Noticiero con Lolita Ayala,' and she is a host on the show ‘Superarte.'

Messages of Spirituality
This woman feels compelled to transmit a message full of spirituality to leave a special incentive in each person who hears her. She weaves all of her speeches with the same main ideological thread: to make the audience contemplate the meaning of life and to demonstrate that the worst disability is a disability of the spirit. She says that a pessimistic attitude in response to the situations that present themselves in life or the particular circumstances of each individual is debilitating.

For Adriana, positive attitude is everything: "Because a calamity, like having a disability; an accident; suffering the loss of a loved one; having a bad relationship with a life partner; getting a divorce or other things can get people down who are not emotionally prepared or strong."

According to this speaker, people should confront disagreeable moments in their lives with bravery and use the experience as a learning process necessary to confront future events with the new knowledge they've acquired. "The attitude of the affected person is less dramatic and the lesson learned can be transmitted to another individual if necessary. I am convinced that life becomes more special when we do something for others – for people, for a country, for an institution or for a dream."

To Run or Not to Run
With lively determination, Macías Hernández said one of the first things her parents told not to do was run. So this is the first thing she did and she fell because she could not maintain harmony of her steps: "Speaking about emotions or professions, sometimes we run and we fall, and, sometimes for vanity or shame, we don't want to admit that we fell because we don't want to ask for anyone's help. We should just admit that certain actions or things are hard. Only then can we confront life with bravery, with determination. We should seek out logical solutions. Everything has a solution except when we are dead. From time to time, we need the help of other people and we should accept it. When we have a problem we should think in a strategic manner and propose various options for action. We should have a Plan A, Plan B and, if it is possible, Plan C."

Judging by Utility, Not Looks
Adriana recalled that one of the challenges she had to overcome was when she was three years old. She had to learn to use a special apparatus to write: "The equipment allowed me to judge things not for how they look, but for the value that they can have in our lives." There are people who do not realize all the opportunities and possibilities open to them.

When asked about the key to her success, Adriana responded: "An individual who doesn't stay true to him or herself doesn't accomplish anything. When people are true to themselves, they often find a place for themselves in the social universe. There are always obstacles in life but to overcome them you need to be emotionally trained. To be tenacious and strong-spirited helps one be successful."

The example that Macías Hernández gives is invaluable. The strength of her will and her desire to overcome adversity is obvious in the actions she is taking to build a better world.