At the end of September each year, the World Federation of the Deaf celebrates deaf people and their accomplishments through the International Week of the Deaf. It doesn’t take a special holiday, however, to see some of their contributions in everyday life. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 466 million people have hearing loss in the world today. With that large of a number, the chances are great that you know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. If not, maybe you’ll recognize these 8 famous deaf people who have changed the world, according to Deaf Unity.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Recognized as one of the best composers of all time, there’s no question that Beethoven made some serious contributions to the music world. What is more notable, however, is that he was profoundly deaf!

Like many individuals with hearing loss, he started life being able to hear. But, as time went on, he experienced a progressive decline in hearing until age 46 when he became completely deaf. Using his knowledge of instruments and voices from his hearing years, he didn’t consider deafness as an obstacle but continued to compose music and direct symphonies.


Thomas Edison

We can thank this man for many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. With single-sided deafness (SSD) in one ear and hearing loss in the other, Thomas Edison didn’t allow anything to stand in the way of becoming one of the most prolific inventors in history. In fact, some say that he counted his deafness as an advantage – he had more time to work because he didn’t have to carry on long conversations with people!


Helen Keller

Perhaps one of the most famous deaf people of all time, Helen Keller had the dual diagnosis of blindness as well. Amazingly, she was able to overcome both obstacles and obtain a BA degree and become a professional speaker and activist for the rights of women and the disabled.

Marlee Matlin

Stepping into modern times, you may recognize Marlee Matlin as a famous deaf actress. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress, starred in several movies and TV shows, and became an author and deaf rights advocate.

Nyle DiMarco

This famous model, actor, and activist has demonstrated remarkable skill in giving back to the community. He has a nonprofit organization bearing his name that gives much needed assistance to deaf children and their families. In addition, he has been instrumental in developing the ASL app for teaching American Sign Language to deaf people or others wanting to learn.

Hermon and Heroda Berhane

Twin sisters Hermon and Heroda are both deaf. However, they haven’t let that hold them back. On the contrary, they’ve used their disability to promote awareness through blogging about their fashion, travel, and beauty interests. Gaining fame through Instagram and news outlets, they’ve acquired a national and international following.

Rikki Poynter

Sharing her journey as a deaf individual through video, Rikki Poynter has utilized You Tube as a platform for reaching more people and promoting awareness of issues that deaf people face. Most recently, she is known for campaigning for video closed captioning to increase accessibility to video content. 

Chella Man

As a model, actor, and LGBTQ+ activist, Chella Man is no stranger to the public eye. He became profoundly deaf at the age of 13, sharing his experiences as a deaf transgender man through You Tube videos.


What can we learn from deaf people?

Regardless of our hearing abilities, we can all learn something from these famous deaf people. They have proven that challenges in life are meant to be overcome. And, they are living proof that whatever we truly put our minds to, we can achieve.


If you or a loved one is experiencing deafness or hearing loss, please schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists. When you choose hearing loss treatment and professional support, you set yourself up for success and the ability to achieve your full potential!

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Celebrating 8 Deaf People Who Have Changed the World was last modified: September 2nd, 2020 by Olivia