Famous Deaf People

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The list of famous deaf people below includes only a few of many outstanding individuals with partial or total inability to hear who are not only a source of inspiration to the deaf but to many hearing people as well.

  • Helen Keller (1880-1968). The American author and political activist was not only deaf but she was also blind. But her deafness and blindness did not stop her from becoming the first deaf-blind person to be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree. She published 12 books and fought energetically for disability rights, especially for improvement of education and welfare of people with disabilities. Some of Keller’s best known books include The Story of My Life, Helen Keller’s Journal, The World I Live In, My Religion and Let Us Have Faith.
  • Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931). The celebrated American inventor and businessman who is best known for inventing the first practical electric light bulb and phonograph was deaf from his childhood. His hearing impairment caused him difficulties in school yet he became one of the most notable people in American history.
  • Pete Townshend (1945). Famous English guitarist and songwriter for the group The Who partially lost his hearing in the 1970s, probably due to exposure to loud music. But his hearing impairment did not affect his music career. His band came to be regarded as one of the most influential rock groups in history, while Townshend established himself as one of the greatest guitarists of all times.
  • James “Deaf” Burke (1809-1845). One of England’s first boxing champions had a hearing impairment from infancy. In 1833, he defeated Irish champion Simon Byrne who, however, died from injuries three days later. Burke was arrested but was acquitted at the court. He then spent a few years as a professional boxer in the United States where he won his last fight in 1843. He retired from boxing in the same year and returned to England, dying only two years later of tuberculosis.
  • Terrence Parkin (1980). South African swimmer touched many people when he said that he is going to the Olympics (in 2000) to represent his country as well as to show that “the deaf can do anything” and that he would like to “show the world that there’s opportunities for the deaf”. And he did. He won a silver medal in the 200 metres breaststroke.
  • Kevin Hall (1982). The American golf player who is deaf since the age of 2 is a major source of inspiration, especially to the deaf. He turned professional in 2004 and currently plays on the National Professional Golf Tour and some NGA Hooters Tour events but the golfer is determined to reach even higher. He said for the IMG Academy that he wants to become someone who did not let deafness to prevent him from achieving whatever he wanted to achieve.

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