So what is it that those on disability do? There was a time when we all sat around, watching television, twiddling thumbs, or reading cheesy novels.
But things have changed, a lot, since that time. Now most of us get internet instead of television, where we can socialize without our disabilities inhibiting interactions, where we can find honesty and places to belong.
As a side effect, many of us are studying a lot, we have access to scientific papers, free lectures, and make friends with many leading minds in various fields. Ultimately, many of us can become as renowned as leading scientific minds in the fields we find the most interest.
For me it was biochemistry, I had already studied much in the fields of neurology to attempt to write artificial intelligence, and DNA was a curiosity to me. I had been through schooling for chemistry, ahead of my class so my professor kept throwing higher levels of study at me, which I just absorbed.
So biochemistry became my latest interest, which I studied for over a decade. Watching lectures, repeating lab exorcises, and life in a more meaningful mindset.
So what makes me a scientist? Being a skeptic, one of the militant skeptics.
I cannot stop asking questions, and answers lacking in empirical evidence are easily discarded. I have no difficulty in determining fact from fiction, facts are always demonstrable, repeatable, and stand on their own.
Most intelligent people are skeptics, but not all are curious enough to keep asking, most don't have the patience or time to continue probing beyond the first answer. So by show of expertise, and a tenacious curiosity, many people have began calling me a scientist.
That's all there really is, demonstrable skepticism and curiosity makes you a scientist. Renown is more difficult to gain, but you need no degrees.
Renown is gained by demonstrating that you are able to apply your knowledge to advance the subject, you really don't need to write a scientific paper but it helps. Instead you can find things others missed, point it out to them, then they will remember that you helped.
My greatest contributions to science are old, many have fallen to obsolescence. I am not upset about that, I enjoy the fact that my work has helped others to advance sciences that I now get to use to make my life better.
Which leads us to the last important element for being a scientist, altruism. As a scientist you must aim to help those after you progress more than yourself.