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.