The young man tucks his violin under his chin and begins to play. A hush falls over the few spectators in the largely empty opera house, who turn toward the bare stage. As his lilting notes float through the room, other people trickle in from the lobby to listen.
The young man sometimes closes his eyes as he plays, as if lost in the music. If his audience closed their eyes, too, they would never know the violinist standing before them has no right hand, only a stunted appendage with tiny stubs instead of fingers.
Which is fitting, because Adrian Anantawan prefers to be judged for what people hear, not what they see.
At 28, Anantawan is one of the world's most accomplished young violinists. He has performed at the White House, at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, for Pope John Paul II, for Christopher Reeve and most recently for the Dalai Lama ...
...Anantawan's disability has been with him since birth. Doctors think the umbilical cord wrapped around his hand in the womb, cutting off the blood supply and keeping it from growing properly. To compensate, he uses a simple prosthesis called a spatula, which grips the violin bow.
Anantawan on the stage of the Camden Opera House in Camden, Maine, where he spoke at the PopTech conference.
In recent years, Anantawan has devoted his career to using adaptive technology -- from prosthetic devices like his own to sophisticated computer software -- to aid aspiring young musicians in overcoming a wide range of disabilities. By helping them make music, he believes this technology can help "reveal the inner humanity" of disabled children who struggle to express themselves through other means.
"Accessibility is not an act of charity," Adrian told an audience last summer during a....
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