Disability affects human beings all over the world. no part of the world is completely safe from disability. Similarly, we find achievers with disabilities in every corner of the world. In this article, we feature some people from various countries who are famous for their achievements despite struggling with different types of disabilities.
Please note that this list is not provided in any particular order. furthermore, we welcome suggestions to improve or grow this list. you can suggest more famous people with disabilities in the comments section.
nature of disability: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Life & Accomplishments: Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018) was one of the most famous scientists the world has ever seen. Prof. Hawking was confined to a special wheelchair mounted with a computer that used to speak for him. he had lost his speech due to als. Professor Hawking was an eminent theoretical physicist who made significant advances in how the universe works. Hawking’s discovery of radiation is among several of his important scientific contributions.
prof. Stephen Hawking was elected to the Royal Society (FRS) in 1974. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award in 2009. In addition, he received a long list of awards for scientific achievement.
nature of disability: deaf-blind
life and achievements: helen keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) is probably the best-known icon of people with disabilities. she became deaf and blind at the age of 19 months due to an unknown illness. Helen learned to express herself thanks to Anne Sullivan, her teacher, who remained her lifelong companion.
helen keller became the world’s first deafblind graduate. Helen Keller’s autobiography, the story of my life, is considered a classic book of English literature. she traveled the world and campaigned for antimilitarism, women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and other similar causes. Helen Keller is without a doubt one of the most famous disabled people in the world.
see also: famous people with disabilities in india
franklin d. roosevelt
nature of disability: poliomyelitis
life and achievements: franklin d. Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), popularly known as FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted polio and his legs were permanently paralyzed. however, he served as president from 1933 until his death in 1945. fdr had an immense impact on the united states as he successfully led the nation through the great depression and world war ii. In 1938, Roosevelt founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which led to the development of polio vaccines. this foundation was later renamed the dime march.
fdr used a wheelchair but avoided being seen in public. along with george washington and abraham lincoln, fdr is considered one of the best presidents of america.
nature of disability: lower neck paralysis following horse riding accident.
Life & Accomplishments: Born September 25, 1952 in New York City, Christopher Reeve was only 24 years old when he played the title role in the 1978 film Superman. After the release of The film, Newsweek reported that “Christopher Reeve’s entire performance is a delight. ridiculously good-looking, with a face as sharp and strong as an ax blade, his clumsy and clumsy clark kent and omnipotent superman are just two styles of gallantry and innocence.”
But all this changed when a horse riding accident on May 27, 1995 crushed Reeve’s cervical vertebrae and left him paralyzed up to the neck. Despite such a severe spinal cord injury and resulting disability, Reeve pressed on. he became a world-renowned disability activist. Reeve died on October 10, 2004 at the age of 52.
nature of disability: born with tetra-amelia syndrome (has no arms or legs)
Life and Accomplishments: Nick Vujicic was born on December 4, 1982 in Melbourne, Australia. he was born with phocomelia, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. Despite all the struggle that disability brought, Nick graduated from Griffith University at the age of 21. He married Kanae Miyahara on February 12, 2012. The couple now has four children. Nick is a world famous motivational speaker and is the founder of “Attitude is Altitude”.
Known for his indomitable fighting spirit, Nick easily makes his way onto any list of famous people with disabilities.
nature of disability: paralysis in the legs
Life & Accomplishments: Esther Vergeer has been the most dominant female player in professional sports. She played professional wheelchair tennis and won 48 grand slam tournaments, 23 year-end championships and 7 Paralympic titles. She was the number one wheelchair tennis player in the world from 1999 until her retirement in 2013. Ella Esther Ella was undefeated from 2003 until her retirement. her winning streak extended to 470 games.
Esther was born on July 18, 1981 in Woerden, the Netherlands. Due to an illness that began in 1987, she became paralyzed in March 1990. She learned to play wheelchair tennis during her rehabilitation and turned professional in 1995. And today we know Esther as the most famous disabled athlete in the world.
nature of disability: dwarfism
Life & Accomplishments: Peter Dinklage was born (June 11, 1969, Mendham Township, New Jersey, United States) with achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism. Peter Dinklage’s height is 4 feet 5 inches (135 cm). He later became a film and television actor in Hollywood. Dinklage is best known for his portrayal of Lord Tyrion Lannister on the HBO television series Game of Thrones from 2011 to 2019.
Peter Dinklage is a four-time Primetime Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. he also has a golden globe as well as a long list of awards and honors to his credit.
nature of disability: acute paranoid schizophrenia
Life and Accomplishments: John Nash (June 13, 1928 – May 23, 2015) was a world-renowned mathematician. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994 for pioneering the analysis of equilibria in noncooperative game theory. Nash was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1959. Despite his continuing struggle with his illness, Nash excelled in the field of mathematics. He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University.
John Nash’s life was the subject of the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind (1998). Russel Crowe played the role of Nash and Ron Howard brilliantly directed this gem of a movie.
nature of disability: poliomyelitis
Life and achievements: Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter. she contracted polio at the age of six. her illness made her right leg shorter and thinner than her left. In 1925, Kahlo suffered an accident that further aggravated her disability. she spent most of her life in bed in severe pain. However, Ella Kahlo progressed to become one of the most famous painters and a cultural icon.
some of frida kahlo’s famous works are henry ford hospital (1932), my birth (1932), self-portrait on the border between mexico and the united states (1932), memory, the heart (1937), what the water me dio (1938), the two fridas (1939), self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird (1940).
nature of disability: completely blind
Life and Accomplishments: Born in Italy on September 22, 1958, Andrea Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glycoma at the age of 5 months. she went completely blind when she was 12 years old. Bocelli showed a great passion for music as a child. he learned music and became a singer (tenor), composer and piano, flute & world famous. violinist.
singer celine dion has said that “if god wanted to have a singing voice, it should sound a lot like andrea bocelli“. Andrea Bocelli was awarded the Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (grande ufficiale ordine al merito della repubblica italiano) on March 4, 2006.
miguel j. fox
nature of disability: parkinson’s disease
life and accomplishments: michael j. Fox (born June 9, 1961) is an actor, comedian, author, film producer, and activist. he starred in the famous back to the future trilogy. In 1991, at just 29 years old, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In 2000, Michael founded Michael J. fox foundation, an organization that works to promote research to find a cure for the disease. the foundation has invested more than $650 million in research.
nature of disability: autism / [most famous people with autism]
Life & Accomplishments: The author of many children’s books, including the world famous Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, lived with autism. the disorder affected his speech so that he stuttered when speaking in social groups. he was also deaf in one ear. but his disabilities did not prevent him from excelling as a renowned writer and storyteller.
nature of disability: blindness
life and achievements: louis braille invented a reading and writing system for the visually impaired. this tactile system is known in his honor as the braille language. louis braille was blinded in one eye, at the age of three, as a result of an accident. an infection later developed and spread to both eyes, resulting in total blindness. braille began to develop the tactile code for him when he was still a student. he received a scholarship from the royal institute for blind youth. Braille first introduced the encoding system for it in 1824.
nature of disability: dyslexia [famous people with dyslexia]
Life & Accomplishments: Who doesn’t know the legendary heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali? Commonly known as the greatest, Ali was one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest boxers of all time. but very few people know that his first struggle was with dyslexia. he was a great word maker whose many words are shared as motivational quotes, but he could barely read due to dyslexia.
nature of disability: savant syndrome
If you’re a Hollywood movie buff, you may already know that the character in Rain Man (1988) was based on Kim Peek. However, the true story of Kim Peek was quite different from that of the Rain Man. Kim Peek had a condition where the nerve bundles connecting the two hemispheres of the brain were missing. his unique condition gave him the ability to read two pages of a book simultaneously: the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye. it took him only 8 seconds to read and memorize the two pages. With his amazing ability to read and remember, he memorized over 12,000 books in his lifetime. he was an expert in 15 subject areas.
nature of disability: visual impairment
johnny deep, the famous hollywood actor, best known for playing jack sparrow in the pirates of the caribbean movie series, revealed in an interview that he can’t see anything with his one eye and is myopic in the other. In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Depp said, “I’ve never had a proper vision.” Depp has won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as nominations for three Academy Awards and two British Academy Film Awards.
nature of disability: blindness
She is the most decorated Paralympic athlete in history. trischa, paralympic swimmer from america, has won 55 medals, including 41 gold at paralympics. In addition to being the most successful Paralympic athlete in history, Trischa holds many world records in her disability category. she was born with a rare condition called aniridia which is characterized by abnormal development of the iris. Trischa has been legally blind since her birth due to her rare condition. she was inducted into the paralympic hall of fame in 2012. and disabled swimmers in the usa. uu. receive an award in her name: trischa l zorn award.
infographic about world famous disabled people
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This list of incredible famous people with disabilities from around the world is endless. I will keep developing it. please contribute your suggestions in the comment box.