Famous People That Had Disabilities

Many famous people have had disabilities, though we may not have known it.  These are people who changed our lives with their inventions, music and leadership.

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 - October 18, 1931) - Thomas Edison was an inventor whose experiments and research brought us the light bulb and the entire electrical lighting system that could be supported in a city. He also invented the phonograph, motivated in part by the machine's ability to plan material useful to blind individuals. Most people do not know that he was hard of hearing. Read more at the Library of Congress.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States was the only president elected to four consecutive terms.  His presidency coincided with the Great Depression and World War II. When Roosevelt was 39, he contracted poliomyelitis and lost the use of his legs. He was elected president when he was 48. At that time in the United States, it was unusual that someone with a disability was elected to any position, but Roosevelt's limitation was hidden from the public. He used leg braces so he could stand at the podiums to speak and walked with canes. They did not have television, so most people across the country did not see his speeches when he campaigned. They heard them over the radio. Roosevelt was tremendous speaker giving hope to a country that was hungry and poor. Read more at the White House website.

Harriet Tubman (nee Araminta Ross) - 1822 - 1913 - Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Maryland. As a teenager, she acquired a head injury protecting another slave from a two-pound counterweight that had thrown at the man.  It fractured her skull and she experienced seizures which caused her to fall into an uncontrollable motionless, dream-like state which lasted from 30 minutes to an hour. She later married a free black man. In order to escape the threat of being sold, she fled Maryland and walked to Philadelphia without her husband in 1849. She used the Underground Railroad on her journey to Pennsylvania and eventually went back to Maryland to help her niece and her niece's children escape in 1850. She returned to help her husband, but found he had remarried and didn't want to join her in 1851. In all she made 13 trips to help at least 70 slaves to freedom.  Read more at the Caring Voice website.