10 Famous Deaf People That Saved The World

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Sometimes we tend to think that the world of the disabled is worthless and deserving of underestimation, well, it is not so. Here, you will be startled to discover that some of the people who have made remarkable impacts in the world were either completely or partially deaf. Perhaps you are feeling pity for them already, but you will be surprised to know that most of the famous deaf people the world has known testified to the fact that their hearing disabilities helped them in no small way, to attain most of their greatest achievements.

10 Famous Deaf People That Saved The World

This list supplies you with ten world innovators with deafness or hearing loss.

Thomas Edison

His full name is Thomas Alva Edison. He was born in Milan, Ohia, on February 11, 1847, and as a boy, Al, as he was popularly called during his childhood, did not do so well in school. As a result of this, his mother decided to teach him at home. This marked the beginning of his keen interest in reading.

Al worked so hard while growing up in Michigan. He wandered all over the country as a tramp telegrapher and at the age of 22, he ran up and down with messages for trains and Civil War Union Army. At this time, Edison tried to come up with inventions of his own. His first attempt was to create an electric vote recorder but this turned out to be futile. However, he headed for New York where he had many friends helping him in his researches while he handled the function of supervision.

In 1877, Edison came up with his first invention, the phonograph machine which was the first to record human sounds and play it back. He was also the first man to make an electric light in his famous laboratory at West Orange. Edison did not call it an end after these great inventions, he went on to perfect his phonograph, x-rays, storage batteries, and motion pictures. The first talking dolls were also products of Edison’s ideas and hard work.

These inventions of Edison’s form part of the contemporary innovations and developments in almost all spheres of life. But do you know that this great genius had a serious hearing impediment? He had been with the condition since his infancy. Even though no one could certainly identify the cause of his hearing loss, it was suspected to be genetic since it ran in his family. When asked about his experience with the hearing loss, Edison smiled and said that it even earned him a deeper concentration which was at the heart of his exercises and it certainly earned him a spot among famous deaf people who made a difference in the world.

Russell Harvard

Harvard comes from a lineage with deafness. His parents and paternal grandmother all had this genetic disability, but this has never been a hindrance to the pursuit of his career which has placed him on the list of famous deaf people.

He made his movie debut in the movie There Will Be Blood and is popularly known for his role as Matt Hamill in the 2010 biopic, The Hammer. He also played a brilliant role as Mr. Wrench in the award-winning TV series Fargo.

Apart from his exploits on screen, the actor also has acclaim Off Broadway. In 2012, he featured in the play, Tribes, by Nina Raine, portraying the character of Billy, the deaf son in an intellectual, though dysfunctional, hearing British family. His near perfect interpretation of the role earned him Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance in 2012 and many other award nominations.

He is a strong exponent of disability awareness and accessibility. His ailment, notwithstanding, Harvard has added great values to Hollywood and the world movie industry.

Helen Keller

Helen, an American author, political activist, and a lecturer was one of the most celebrated icons of the 19th century. She was born on the 27th of June, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, where she lived with her parents.

At 19 months old, Helen contracted an illness which medical experts described as acute congestion of the stomach and the brain. Although doctors could not say for sure what the ailment was, it is believed it was probably scarlet fever or meningitis. This caused her to go blind and deaf.

In order to be able to communicate with her people at home, Helen used the vibrations of people’s feet to identify who was walking. Although she tried so much to adapt to her condition, her parents were not comfortable with her struggles to live her life and as a result, she was later provided with a legendary tutor, Anne Sullivan, who helped her through the journey of identifying with her world.

Initially, it was frustrating making her spell doll with her fingers, but after Anne’s success with her brilliant water experiment, Helen kicked off with understanding and identifying
with the world around her. She eventually became the first deaf person to obtain a Bachelor of Arts, an educator, a prolific writer, women rights advocate, political activist and one of the famous deaf people to walk the earth.

Annie Jump Cannon

Cannon, an American astronomer, did her college education at Wellesley college in 1922, studying physics, biology, mathematics and astronomy. Just after her graduation, photography was introduced into the world and she jumped at it, learning all about it and eventually using the knowledge in her astronomical researches.

She took many photographs of the stars and this gave her an insight into the lingering problem of the then astronomical science which was the issue of no classification system of the stars. Annie eventually solved the problem and her first catalogue of stellar spectra which is still used and appreciated in the sphere of astronomy was published in 1901.

It is unbelievable that this amazing scientist suffered from hearing loss during her lifetime. Although she wasn’t born deaf, she lost her hearing due to an illness suspected to be scarlet fever. This made it difficult for her to socialize, leading to soaking herself in her work.

Jane Lynch

Lynch is one of the notable actors in Hollywood. Since her birth in 1960, one of her ears has been totally blocked. She discovered this impediment during a hearing game with her brother and unfortunately, no hearing aid was helpful. However, Lynch was never weighed down by her hearing problem.

Having decided to prove herself in the movie industry despite being deaf in one ear, she dived into the industry and today, she is well known for her role in the award-winning TV series, Glee, as well as her other works, including Desperate House Wives,
Friend, Wreck it Ralph, West Wing and 40 Years Old Virgin.

Bill Clinton

On our list of famous deaf people is this former president of America who was born to William Jefferson Blythe Jr. and Virginia Cassidy on August 19, 1946, in Arkansas where he was also raised. Clinton studied at Georgetown University, the University College, Oxford and Yale Law school. In 1975, he married  after they met in Yale.

is a fervent American Democrat and accomplished politician. He became the 42nd President of the United States of America from 1993 to 2001 but before then, he served as an Attorney general and Governor of Arkansas.

There is no doubt that Clinton brought about tremendous development and innovations in almost all the sectors of the USA and the whole world at large. This informs the reason why he is being ranked among the first three best presidents of the USA since the end of World War II.

It is so stunning to know that this global legend has a regular hearing loss and it is strongly believed that this was caused by his habit of listening to loud music as a youth, his fondness with duck hunting and also attending noisy political rallies.

The former president now finds it difficult to follow conversations in a room full of people and in loud political gatherings. In an attempt to maximize his remaining hearing, Clinton now makes use of hearing aids.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven was brought up in Bonn, the then capital city of Electorate of Cologne. At an early age, his talent for music became obvious. He was coached by his father Johann Van Beethoven and Christian Gottlob Neefe, a professional composer and conductor.

At 21, he moved to Vienna to study music composition and there, his talent for music gleamed intensely, earning him wide recognition as a virtuoso pianist. He composed lots of popular classical music and remains one of the most celebrated classical music heroes.

Beethoven suffered hearing loss from his late twenties which could not be traced to any cause. Nevertheless, this epic historical composer continued exploring his talent in Vienna until death came calling on March 26, 1827. Even in death, he is still celebrated as one of the famous deaf people who lived.

Casar Jacobson

Born in Austria on 8 November 1985, her original name is Caesar C Jacobson. The Norwegian-Canadian lady had most of her youthful days in Norway and Germany where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Genetics.

Caesar, a very classy and elegant lady, had an adept understanding of genetics which gave her an optimistic notion about the world of women and the disabled. Currently, she serves as UN women youth champion.

A credible activist of disability and gender equality rights, Caesar has also held respectable positions in the world of pageantry. She was former Miss Canada, Miss Globe, Miss British Columbia, Miss Calgary, etc.

Interestingly, this paragon of beauty has been with an impaired hearing ability for long. In her late twenties, it became acute and rendered her completely deaf. CSL and ASL are her most acquainted sign languages.

Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette was born on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia. She was the second of six children born to great entrepreneur, William Washington Gordon. Growing up, it was recorded that Juliette was susceptible to accidents.

She enjoyed arts and poetry while in boarding school and was very adventurous in her time. The inspiration she got from the creations and ideas of the initiator of the Boyscout, Barden-Powell, prompted her to join the Girl Guide movement in England.

In 1912, she went back to USA where she introduced a Girl Guide movement which later metamorphosed into the US Girl Scout. Juliette, as the foremost president of the scouts made teamwork, oneness, togetherness and women rights activism the driving forces of the group.

Sadly, she suffered a gross hearing loss during her lifetime. Nevertheless, her footfalls in today’s women’s rights activism are still heard even though she has been long dead, earning her pride of place among famous deaf people.


Ruth Benedict

Born with the full name Ruth Fulton Benedict, this fanatical scholar is the daughter of Frederick Fulton and Beatrice Fulton. She studied at Vassar College and the New School of Social Research both in New York before moving on to study Anthropology at Columbia University under the tutelage of Franz Boaz who is widely known as the father of American anthropology.

She subsequently obtained a Doctorate Degree and became part of the faculty of anthropology in 1923. Benedict followed the footstep of her mentor, Franz Boaz whose anthropological ideologies played crucial roles in her career as a great anthropologist and folklorist.

Her footprints in the realm of anthropology are still firm and clear. It was her ingenuity in the discipline that gave birth to her theory of Patterns of Culture in 1934. This attracted to her, a loud acclamation in the profession. Benedict is also one of the world-changers with intense hearing disabilities.

Also Read: Top 10 Richest People in the world with full biography and details.