The World's Most Famous Disabled People

Famous people with various disabilities and conditions
including actors, politicians and writers
who contributed to society

Have a disability or medical condition? You are not alone. Many people with disabilities have contributed to society. These include actors, actresses, celebrities, singers, world leaders, and many other famous people.

A disability is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic diseases.

Of course there are also millions of people worldwide who may not be famous in the sense society deems famous, but still live with, battle, and overcome their disabilities every single day of their lives.

Below you will find men and women who have made a difference to the world including pictures and the names of many famous and well known people who have, or had these disabilities (often referred to as being crippled, handicapped, or having a handicap in past times.)





Viscount Horatio NelsonLord Nelson
Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven
Marla RunyanMarla Runyan

Albert Einstein
The Mathematician/Physicist who had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing maths in school. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing.

Alexander Graham Bell
Had a learning disability

Cher
Has dyslexia

Christopher Reeve
Never has a person with a disability commanded so much media attention in recent history. Christopher Reeve, crippled after a horse-riding injury, wants to be up on his feet & wants to help others stand confident too. His life is now dedicated to harnessing the power of medical research to get up & ride again.

David Blunkett
The Rt Hon David Blunkett MP is without doubt Britain's most famous guide dog owner. Often photographed with his guide dogs - Ted, Offa and Lucy - David Blunkett also holds the powerful political post of Home Secretary. Joining the Labour party aged 16, he was elected to Sheffield City Council aged 22. He was the council leader from 1980 to 1987 until he was elected MP for Sheffield Brightside. Seen as the archetypal municipal Socialist, he is in many senses a traditional Labour man - beard-wearing and blunt-talking. Arguably, he is a role model for disabled people who just want to get on with their lives.

Thomas Edison
Edison is the great inventor who had over 1,000 patents and his inventions are in various fields used in our daily life. In his early life he was thought to have a learning disability and he could not read till he was twelve and later he himself admitted that he became deaf after pulling up to a train car by his ears. He first captured world attention by inventing the phonograph. His most popular invention is the electric light bulb. He also developed the telegraph system. He also became a prominent businessman and his business institution produced his inventions and marketed the products to the general people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Roosevelt had Polio, was governor of New York State then elected President of the United States for 4 terms.

George Washington
Had a learning disability. He could barely write and had very poor grammar skills.

Francsico de Goya
Spanish painter (1746-1828): At age 46, an illness left him deaf. He went on to create the most famous Spanish art of the 19th century.

Helen Keller
(Devoted Life to Persons with Disabilities) She was Blind, Deaf, and Mute

Ian Dury
movement/walking disability, resulting from polio. Hits from 1978 ("Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick") into 1980's. Recorded "Spasticus Autisticus" which was banned from radio, not surprising, as lyrics could be mis-construed as disabled-ist

John Milton
English Author/poet (1608-1674): He became blind at age 43. He went on to create his most famous epic, Paradise Lost.

Lord Byron
"Mad, bad and dangerous to know", Britain's great romantic was also born with talipes, a club foot. It is said that he "walked with difficulty but wandered at will". He toured Europe extensively and captured the popular imagination through his poetry and his personality. From gloomy egoism through to satiric realism he was renowned for his writings, his sexual ambivalences and his championing of Greek independence from the Turks. Disability activist Tom Shakespeare summed him up in the following way: "Most of his poetry hasn't stood the test of time, but he was a blockbuster in his day, and like very few other heroes, his name is still used as an adjective - 'Byronic', meaning dashing.”

Lord Nelson
Viscount Horatio Nelson is certainly Britain's greatest naval hero. His skill as a naval commander is, of course, well-documented. He won crucial victories at Trafalgar in 1805 and the Battle of the Nile in 1798, during the wars with revolutionary and Napoleonic France. What is less often remarked upon is that a great part of his naval career and his major victories were won as a disabled person. Going ashore in Corsica following the fall of Toulon, a French shot flung debris into his face leaving him without sight in his right eye. Later, an assault on Tenerife resulted in a shattered right elbow - back on his flagship the arm was amputated. He carried on as a disabled seaman for nearly ten years, securing his most important naval victories at the Battle of the Nile and the infamous Battle of Trafalgar - where he died on October 21, 1805. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't say "I see no ships". Instead he said, during the Battle of Copenhagen, "... I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes" and, raising his telescope to his blind eye, "I really do not see the signal".

Ludwig van Beethoven
(famous musician) Beethoven is the greatest German composer and musician who was deaf at the later part of his life. In his early life he was famous as a pianist. He got the primary knowledge of music from his father, who was a musician. He has some mysterious power which led him to create famous compositions one after another. He went to Vienna and learned from some of prominent musicians. After the age of 28, he started becoming deaf and his personal life was not so peaceful. He composed many piano sonatas such as Waldstein, Appassionata, etc.

Marla Runyan
One of the women representing the Unites States in the 1500 metre track event at the 2000 Olympics was Marla Runyan. The American runner finished seventh in her preliminary heat and rose to sixth in the semi finals to qualify for the finals. During the final race, Marla lost track of the major competitors. She finished in eighth position, 3.20 seconds behind the gold medal winner. In 1996, Marla set several track and field records at the Paralympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Following that success, Marla wanted to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney -- even though she is legally blind. The 31-year-old runner has been diagnosed with Stargardt disease. This is a condition that leaves her with a limited ability to see what is in front of her. In Sydney, Marla became the first legally blind athlete to compete in an Olympics.

Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin is a stand-up comedian and an actress. Some of her films include A Dead Silence, My Party,A Hear No Evil, A Bridge to Silence, A Walker, and A Children of A Lesser God. In 1987, she captivated the world by winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the film A Children of a Lesser God. Marlee Matlin became deaf in infancy due to Roseola infantum. However, deafness has not disabled her or her career.

Robin Williams
(Hollywood star) was diagnosed to be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a child. He never refuses a role related to medicine e.g Awakenings, Patch Adams

Sarah Bernhardt
French actress (1844-1923) Disabled by a knee injury, her leg amputated in 1914, she continued starring on stage until just before her death. She is regarded as France's greatest actress -- "The Divine Sarah".

Stephen Hawkings
Stephen Hawkings
Tanni Grey-Thompson
Tanni Carys Davina Grey-Thompson
Tom Cruise
Hollywood star Tom Cruise

Stephen Hawkings
World famous Physicist/mathematician and author of A Short History of the Universe Stephen Hawkings is considered as the greatest scientist of the twentieth century after Einstein. Hawking's big bang theory and black hole theory has turned the attention of the world. He is the Isaac Newton Professor of Mathematics of the University of Cambridge. Though he is now nearly paralyzed, he is teaching through a computer supported a machine by which his words are compiled. His physical illness could not make him stop form his research. His famous book is "A Brief History of Time".

Sudha Chandran
(Indian actress and classical dancer) This brave lady dances with a Jaipur foot. She has acted in a movie on classical dance called "Nache Mayuri" & today acts in a variety of TV serials.

Tanni Grey-Thompson
Tanni Carys Davina Grey-Thompson OBE - to give her full name and title - is the disabled athlete that most people instantly recognise. Formerly Tanni Grey - the Thompson was added following her marriage in 1999 - she has competed in Paralympic Games since 1988, representing Britain at distances ranging from 100m to 800m. She has won fourteen paralympic medals including nine golds, and has broken over twenty world records. As a wheelchair athlete she was also the winner of five London marathons - in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2001. In recent years, she has established herself as a TV presenter - including BBC TWO's From the Edge disability magazine programme.

Tom Cruise
(Hollywood Star): is severely dyslexic

Walt Disney
Had a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson
U.S. President from 1913-1921. Had a learning disability - he was severely dyslexic

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