Disabled Yet Successful: Inspiring Stories of Famous People

A person is said to have a disability if they have difficulty to function due to a physical impairment, mental illness, sensory impairment, intellectual impairment, and cognitive impairment. There are also several chronic diseases that a person can have that would deem them disabled. There are millions of people worldwide who are considered to be disabled. Some of them are not famous in a way that society would deem them famous, and others are. Below is a list of men and women, who despite their disabilities, were able to make huge contributions to the world.

Thomas Edison  



Thomas Edison is someone that every child learns about when they are in school — an inventor who had over a thousand patents for a myriad of inventions that we use up to the present day. As a child, it was believed that Edison suffered from a learning disability that pertains to difficulty in reading. In fact, it was only when he turned 12 that he started reading. This great inventor also became deaf. Regardless of these problems, he invented the phonograph, the electric light bulb, and the telegraph system. Not only was Edison an amazing inventor – he was also a very sharp businessman and without a doubt successful.





Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein was a mathematician, a physicist, and is considered to be one of the greatest thinkers of all time. Regardless of his intelligence and achievements, he had a learning disability. He was not able to speak until he was 3 years old, and he struggled with math when he was in school. He also stated that he had great difficulty expressing himself through writing.






Francisco de Goya


Francisco de Goya was a very famous, Spanish painter, who lived from 1746 through 1828. When he was 46 years old, he developed an illness which rendered him deaf. Regardless of his hearing loss, he still managed to create a world renowned art work of the 19th century.






John Milton


John Milton was an English author and poet, who lived from 1608 until 1674. When he was 43 years old, he went blind. After his blindness, he was still able to write his most famous work, the epic “Paradise Lost”.






Christopher Reeve


Superman, Christopher Reeve was left paralyzed from the neck down after a horse riding injury. After the accident, he got more media attention than he did when he was starring in Hollywood films. After the accident, he didn’t use his disability as an excuse to give up, he used his fame and his injury to draw awareness for medical research. Sadly, he passed away due to complications from pneumonia.





Franklin D. Roosevelt


Franklin D. Roosevelt was in a wheelchair due to having Polio as a child. Regardless of the paralysis, he was able to become the governor of New York State and he was elected President of the United States for 4 terms.







Ludwig van Beethoven


Beethoven is one of the greatest musicians and composers of all time. When he was very young, he was a famous pianist in Germany. He was taught music by his father, who was also a musician. His incredible aptitude in music allowed him to make one famous composition after another. Later, he traveled to Vienna, where he was taught by some of the most famous musicians. At the age of 28, he began losing his hearing and his personal life was a mess. Still, he was able to compose some of the most famous piano sonatas in history, including Waldstein and Appassionata.




Marlee Matlin


Marlee Matlin is an actress who specialized in making people laugh – in short, Matlin was a comedian. She starred in films such as My Party, A Dead Silence, Bridge to Silence, Hear No Evil, Walker, and Children of a Lesser God, for which she won an Academy Award for being the Best Actress in 1987. During infancy, Matlin got sick with roseola infantum which caused her to become deaf. Regardless of her deafness, it has not had an impact on her career at all.





Sarah Bernhardt


Sarah Bernhardt was a French actress who lived from 1844 until 1923. In 194, she suffered from an injury to her knee, leading to leg amputation. She did not let this stop her. She continued performing on stage up until just before her death. Today, she is part of the list of France’s greatest actresses, and she is also called “The Divine Sarah”.





Woodrow Wilson


Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States for two terms, from 1913 through 1921. He was able to become the President despite the fact that he had a learning disability, he was severely dyslexic.







Stephen Hawkings


Who doesn’t know Stephen Hawkings — one of the world’s renowned physicist and mathematician? He also penned the book “A Short History of the Universe” and the extremely famous “A Brief History of Time”. He is considered to be the 20th century’s greatest scientist after Albert Einstein. The Theories about the Big Bang and the Black Hole came from Hawkings. He is also revered at the University of Cambridge as the Isaac Newton Professor of Mathematics. He has done all this while being completely paralyzed, without the ability to speak. He teaches a class using a computer that compiles all of his words. He did not let his disability did not keep him from his research and coming up with some of the most famous and well-known theories in history.

5 Important Tools To Reach Your Goals

Okay, so we all know that a lot of the advice that people give one another when it comes to reaching goals doesn’t work. We’ve all heard the dime store philosophies about believing in yourself and following your dreams. It always makes me want to say: ‘where did my dreams go? I’m trying to follow them!’

Anyway, like a lot of people, I always wanted to write a book. However, like a lot of people, what I really meant was: I would like to have written a book. The actual writing part always got away from me. Naturally, I tried listening to all of the people who talked about how I should ‘follow my dreams’ and ‘believe in myself.’ Well, the book still sat there getting unwritten.

It’s only two years later, and I wrote the book. Even if it doesn’t meet anyone else’s standards, it meets mine. In that time, I managed to learn something that was even more valuable: the 5 important tools to reach your goals.

Pacing Yourself

You can’t write a book overnight. You can’t do anything that’s worth doing overnight, and a lot of people seem to feel like they can and that they should. You should stop being so hard on yourself and allow yourself to have a lot of reasonable and incremental successes.

I told myself that as long as I wrote a little bit each day, I’d be fine. That’s what I did. Eventually, I wrote the whole book. Not all goals have the same defined beginning, middle, and end as a novel. The thing is, you’re still going to have a lot of initial steps and then those initial steps are going to lead to a lot of big goals. Focus on taking the initial steps first.

Celebrate Your Incremental Successes

I basically rewarded myself every time I finished another page. That’s what you should do every time you actually do something that helps you accomplish the goal that you care about so much. Remember that lots of people never even manage to get that far. You did, and you should actually be happy about that. The rewards, whatever they are, will help to give you the energy to keep going anyway.

Emotional Support

I had some pretty toxic people in my life when I first started the book. They couldn’t stop telling me that I was too young to be a good writer, that the book was going to be terrible, that getting anything published was hard and writing a book didn’t count if you couldn’t get it published by a traditional publisher, and that I should basically listen to everything that they said. Those people are out of my life now. It wasn’t just because of the book thing, but that didn’t help.

You need people who are actually going to provide you with the emotional support that you need in order to accomplish your goals, and the emotional support that you need in general. If you have people in your life who are constantly tearing you down, it’s going to be harder for you to even function, much less do something awesome.


Setting Realistic Goals

Writing a novel is a realistic goal. People do it all the time. Becoming a billionaire is not. Most of the people who did that were either millionaires to begin with, or they didn’t actually set out to be billionaires. They just ended up that way. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to set goals that are actually going to be possible. Otherwise, you’re just going to feel like you can’t accomplish anything, and that’s not true and not fair.

Learning From Failure

The people who succeed the most have also failed the most. It’s just part of what happens when you try a lot of things. I never show people all of the rejected dialogue scenes that I wrote for my book. They only see the great finished product. That’s all that anyone’s going to see with your finished goals, too, and don’t worry about the mistakes that you made along the way. If the mistakes were learning experiences, they were actually good, and you should be thankful you made them.