Instead of rewriting columns about the use of language and Stephen Hawking, I'm linking to two articles that I thought were really well written about his passing and the coverage surrounding it. I hope you take a moment to read them!
"The fact of the matter is that Stephen did all of his amazing work with his disability — not in spite of it. To erase that fact of his life as we mourn the loss of him in our world is to ignore part of who he was simply because it wasn’t something that could be easily understood. He did not need to be free of his disability and wheelchair to change the world, so why must he be freed of it now that he has passed on?"From TeenVogue: Saying Stephen Hawking Is "Free" From His Wheelchair Is Ableist
"As a disabled person, however, I'm also troubled by the way the media has framed his life and his passing. Among the run-of-the-mill condolences I saw on social media, there were a few that bothered me, including a meme depicting the spirit of Mr. Hawking walking out of his wheelchair, as if he were now free of it.
As a fellow wheelchair user, these kinds of depictions, while perhaps well-intentioned, sting. I wouldn’t want someone to erase my identity as a disabled person in my death, as it is a huge intrinsic part of who I am and how I see the world around me. It is unfair that in order for us to celebrate his life, we feel it necessary to remove a part of who Stephen Hawking was: a disabled man."