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Q: Succesful people born with a severe "disability" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Succesful people born with a severe "disability"
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: dtnl42-ga
List Price: $160.00
Posted: 30 Apr 2005 22:51 PDT
Expires: 30 May 2005 22:51 PDT
Question ID: 516429
I have a great list of people born into difficult circumstances who
went on to become succesful. I am now looking for a list of people
born blind, or deaf, or dumb, or unable to walk etc. - people who were
more "able" than many others. I know of Helen Keller, so no need to
repeat her. I am looking for famous and not so famous, for quotes from
those people and a summary of their stories, what they have achieved
and how they have provided hope to so many people.
Subject: Re: Succesful people born with a severe "disability"
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 05 May 2005 18:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello dntl42, 

  How nice to be able to answer another of your varied and interesting questions!

I hope my answer contains the information you were hoping it would!
I've compiled a list of numerous people who have made a difference in
other's lives. Some are famous, some not so famous, and some are
acknowledged and recognized in their own right. You asked for those
born with their disabilities, but I have included some examples who
were dealt a disability during childhood as well. (Just in case!)


Andrea Bocelli
   ?I was born September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, in the Tuscan
countryside near Volterra. The region's traditions, as well as my
parents' influence have taught me never to accept life's difficulties
in a passive way, but rather to draw strength from them.
As far as I can remember, no moments in my life have gone by without
being filled with passion for music. Italy's greatest tenors, such as
Del Monaco, Gigli, and especially Corelli, have always inspired great
admiration and enthusiasm in me since I was just a boy. In love with
opera, the dream and ambition of my whole life is to become a great

Despite the fact that I live in a fast-paced world, I live my life
with a calm vision: I enjoy life's simple pleasures and face every
challenge with passion. I try to always be optimistic by interpreting
the real meaning of a quotation from the French novelist Antoine de
Saint-Exupéry: "You see clearly only through your heart. The essential
is invisible to your eyes."?

?All that counts in life is intention.?
Andrea Bocelli, in TV Guide

Fanny Crosby
   ?Known as an American hymn writer and poetess, Fanny Crosby wrote
over 9,000 hymns during her life. Many stories have been told about
her. She entered what was then known as the New York Institution for
the Blind at the age of fifteen and afterward taught English and
history (1847-58).
As a pupil and as a teacher, Fanny spent 35 years at the school. She
was often asked to entertain visitors with her poems and she
frequently met with presidents, generals and other dignitaries. She
was asked to play at President Grant's Funeral. Her first book of
poems was published in 1844 was called The Blind Girl and Other Poems.
After leaving the school, she dedicated her life to serving the
poorest and the neediest. Supporting herself by her writing, she
quickly gained fame for her hymns. It is said that publishers had so
much of her work, that they took to using them under pseudonyms. Her
usual fee was a mere $2 which frequently went to her work with the
poor. Her mission work is legendary, as is her devotion to serving
others above herself.?

?The famous blind songwriter Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,000 songs.
This fact and other interesting highlights in the life of Miss Crosby
were revealed by Warren Wiersbe in his book Victorious Christian.
Wiersbe explained that when Fanny was only 6 weeks old a minor eye
inflammation developed. The doctor who treated the case was careless,
though, and she became totally and permanently blind.
   Fanny Crosby harbored no bitterness against the physician, however.
In fact, she once said of him, "If I could meet him now, I would say
thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her
blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed
from her pen. According to those who knew her, Miss Crosby probably
would have refused treatment even if it could have assured the
restoration of her sight.
   Wiersbe concluded by commenting: "It was said of another blind
hymnwriter, George Matheson, that God made him blind so he could see
clearly in other ways and become a guide to men. This same tribute
could be applied to Fanny Crosby, who triumphed over her handicap and
used it to the glory of God." Yes, this talented woman allowed her
tragedy to make her better instead of bitter.?

Doc Watson
   ?Doc Watson is a legendary performer who blends his traditional
Appalachian folk music roots with blues, country, gospel, and
bluegrass to create his unique style and expansive repertoire. Blind
from infancy, Doc has spent his lifetime making music and is
considered by fans everywhere one of the world's most accomplished
Doc was born Arthel L. Watson in Deep Gap , NC (Watauga County) on
March 23 , 1923 into a family with a rich musical tradition. His
mother, Annie Watson, sung many traditional secular as well as
religious songs, and his father, General Watson, played the banjo.
Doc's early instrumental experience was with harmonica and a homemade
banjo, but at age thirteen he taught himself the chords to "When the
Roses Bloom in Dixieland" on a borrowed guitar. As the story goes,
Doc's father was so pleased that Doc had been able to teach himself
these chords in one day, that he helped Doc buy his own guitar the
very next Saturday.?

Dummy Hoy
   ?William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy (May 23, 1862 - December 15, 1961)
was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball. He was the
first deaf baseball player in the major leagues. Hoy was a graduate of
the Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus, Ohio. He started his career
at the age of twenty-four in 1886, and has many impressive records to
his name. There is a movement to have him inducted into the Baseball
Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Many credit him with having
developed the hand signals used by the umpires in the game to this

?Hoy, who was born hearing but lost his hearing as a young child, is
one of the more historic figures in baseball history. Among other
things, he was the first one to hit a "grand slam" in the American
League. Hoy was also instrumental in the invention of the "strike"

Louis Braille
   ?Louis Braille (1809-1852) invented the system of raised dots which
form letters for the visually impaired to read.
Louis was blinded in an accident at the age of 4. He was sent to one
of the first schools for blind boys in Paris, where they were taught
simple skills to help them earn a living without begging. Without
being able to read, it was difficult for blind people to have much
Braille's idea for using raised dots came from a ex-soldier, who had
fought in the Napoleonic Wars. This man visited the school in 1821 to
show his idea for raised-dot writing in wartime. Soldiers on the front
line could pass raised-dot messages to each other silently, without
giving away their position to the enemy.
His system used 12 dots, and proved too complicated for soldiers to
use in practise, but Braille started experimenting and worked out that
people could easily "read" a 6-dot letter or number with their
fingers. In 1827 the first book in "Braille" writing was published.

Blind people welcomed the independence it gave them.- to write as well
as read; but at first some schools for the blind tried to ban

?Louis developed tuberculosis in young manhood. As he lay dying he
said, "God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors
of eternal hope. After that, doesn't it seem that nothing more could
keep me bound to the earth?" He asked for final communion about midday
on January 6, 1852. After three and a half hours of agony late that
afternoon, he died at seven-thirty in the evening.?

Sir Francis Joseph Campbell
 (Not born blind, but blinded at a very young age.)
Born to a Tennessee farming family in 1832, Francis Joseph Campbell
was blinded in an accident at the age of four. He excelled as a
musician when he later attended the school for the blind in Nashville,
and at 16 he became a music teacher there. In 1857 he joined the staff
of Perkins and was head of the music department for 11 years. In 1869,
accompanied by his wife Sophia, a former Perkins teacher, Campbell
went to Leipzig and Berlin to study music. Passing through London on
his return to Boston, Campbell met Thomas Rhodes Armitage in 1871.

   Homer, best known of the ancient Greek poets. ?From ancient times
only two names of famous blind people have reached us. One of them is
a poet of Ancient Greece, Homer, who lived in the 8th c. B.C. and who
wrote the famous epic poems ?Iliad? and ?Odyssey?.?

?The poem of Homer?s was stimulated by deep democratic and humanistic
traditions of Greek culture. These same traditions, influenced by the
ideas of the Renaissance, caused the re-appraisal of values, which in
turn changed the social status of the blind in the society. Favorable
conditions were created to develop a well-rounded personality and to
realize the full potential of the blind. The recognition of the blind
person as a full-fledged personality by his/her society manifests
itself in European states passing laws on the compulsory education of
the blind within the framework of mainstream school curricula. Even
without such laws, blind children were educated anyway.?
This site lists many successful blind people, but does not make it
clear if they were blind from birth.

Homer Quotes:
Do thou restrain the haughty spirit in thy breast, for better far is
gentle courtesy.
I detest that man who hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and
speaks for another.
It is equally offensive to speed a guest who would like to stay and to
detain one who is anxious to leave.
It is not possible to fight beyond your strength even if you strive. 

A companion's words of persuasion are effective. 

A councilor ought not to sleep the whole night through, a man to whom
the populace is entrusted, and who has many responsibilities.
Homer, The Iliad

Tim Cordes
   ?Tim Cordes leaned over the patient as his professor and a team of
others closely monitored his every step. Carefully, he positioned the
tube, waiting for the special signal that oxygen was flowing.

The anesthesia machine was set to emit musical tones to confirm the
tube was in the trachea and carbon dioxide was present. Soon, Cordes
heard the sounds. He double-checked with a stethoscope. All was OK. He
had completed the intubation.
Several times over two weeks, Cordes performed this difficult task at
the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. His professor, Dr.
George Arndt, marveled at his student's skills.

"He was 100 percent," the doctor says. "He did it better than the
people who could see."
Tim Cordes is blind.?
The following is a cached page -- it is uncertain how long this will remain online.

?University of Wisconsin student Tim Cordes is the first blind student
to graduate with a Medical Degree from the University of Wisconsin
Medical School. Graduating with honors, Cordes is now pursuing his PhD
through the UW Department of Bimolecular Chemistry and researching the
microbial aspects of pneumonia.

Cordes said that in order to reach his accomplishments and become one
of only a few blind doctors in the country he had to keep motivated.
?I just wanted to do it,? Cordes said.

Despite his positive attitude and impressive credentials, Cordes said
he met opposition when he applied to medical schools. After graduating
valedictorian of his class at the University of Notre Dame, Cordes
faced skepticism while applying to medical schools.?

J. W. Smith, Ph.D.
   Dr. Smith won the prestigious National Federation of the Blind
Educator of the Year Award in 2004.
?Many of us who are blind know that some of our well-meaning friends
and colleagues, and even family, would like to keep us isolated so
that we won?t ?hurt ourselves.? Often, what they really are trying to
do is keep us from hurting them in some way. However, many of us, if
we are honest, tend to favor isolation ourselves because it?s just not
worth the hassle sometimes to do otherwise, we say. I strongly believe
that as blind educators, we cannot afford to be isolationists:
independent thinkers, yes, but isolationists, never. I believe this
because much of the perception about what we do in our classrooms is
based on what we do or do not do outside those classrooms. One way to
deal with those perceptions is to stay connected to our communities,
departments, neighborhoods, etc. This means, specifically,
participating in social events, field trips, commencement exercises,
community activities, cultural and ethnic events, and many others.

 Many people want to believe that we are just like everyone else, and
that we should act accordingly. I also believe that we should get
involved with aspects of our community not necessarily related to
blindness or disabilities. Working with the Red Cross, the Rotary
Club, the Boy and Girl Scouts, church groups, and other groups where
blindness is not the central focus of our involvement are just a few
examples. Just because we are blind, we should not have to be ?super
people.? That is to say, we should not have to do more than any other
faculty member to prove ourselves necessarily, but it is important
that we let our students and colleagues know that we live balanced and
connected lives. I take my boss out for a drink sometimes, and when
it?s my turn to pay, I do.?
?A mind is like a parachute, it works best when it?s open!? -- J.W.
Smith, tenured professor

Olegario D. Cantos, VII
   Blind juror and now Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney
General for Civil Rights R. Alexander Acosta, Division at the U.S.
Department of Justice
?Last May a new battlefront in my life opened. I was summoned by the
Los Angeles County Municipal Court to serve on jury duty in the Citrus
Municipal District. Being the eager student of Political Science that
I am, I reported to the Assembly Room bright and early on a Tuesday
morning--ready to take on the world.
          The day began with an orientation conducted by the jury
clerk. She emphasized the need for jurors to remain as objective as
possible when hearing a case. She also stressed the importance of
taking seriously the civic duty with which we were charged, and she
explained the procedure that prospective jurors were obligated to
          We were asked to call a special number every night to learn
from a recorded series of instructions whether or not attendance was
required the next day. We had been divided into groups with
preassigned numbers. Typically the instructions would say, "Groups 10,
16, 24, and 38 should report to the Assembly Room promptly at 10:00
a.m.; and Groups 3, 5, 19, and 30 should report to the Assembly Room
at 2:00 p.m. sharp."
          Usually jurors are asked to serve for a period of ten days,
but they can be on call for a maximum of only fifteen days, after
which they are dismissed. Service credit (that is, credit toward the
required ten days of jury service) could only be acquired through
actual attendance. But every day that we were on call counted toward
the three-week maximum.
          Within the building there were eleven courtrooms, often
referred to as divisions. Some specialized in civil cases, while
others focused on criminal. From time to time the jury clerk called
for a panel of twenty-four persons to proceed to any one of the
divisions for jury selection. ? Then came the critical period when
each attorney would question whichever prospective jurors he or she
wished. Basing the decision to accept on the answers to these
questions, each attorney would decide whether to thank and excuse
Juror X or to refrain from making such a request to the court. I
watched and I waited, expecting my blindness to be the topic of
          "Your Honor, may I approach the bench?" the prosecuting attorney asked. 
          "Permission granted," said the judge. Two minutes of utter
silence followed. Apparently, during this time the prosecuting
attorney had questioned my suitability for the case at hand.
          "Mr. Cantos," the judge said, "it has been brought to the
attention of this court that your lack of vision may inhibit your
ability to understand the evidence that will be presented." The judge
went on to explain that the case involves the location of certain
streets and intersections and their relationships. This is a case of
"Driving Under the Influence," and knowledge of this physical evidence
may prove instrumental in assisting the jury to come to a final
          I responded with all the energy I could muster. "Your
Honor," I said, "it is the responsibility of any court of law to
present evidence in a way that all jurors understand. The attorneys on
both sides, therefore, have an obligation to explain in detail the
evidence presented, something which must be done whether a juror is
blind or sighted. I believe that I will be fully capable of
understanding the evidence."
          "Thank you," the judge said. 
          More questions were asked, and those jurors who were excused
from seats one through twelve were replaced one by one. The moment
that the first juror seat was vacated, the person seated in chair
thirteen moved up to take the spot. That was me. Thus, I took my place
as Juror 9. Still more questions were asked, but none of them was for
me. I waited and waited and waited. Finally, both sides accepted the
jury as it stood, and I was now officially on the jury!
          With pride, I stood with the other 11 jurors and swore that
I would be as objective as possible, that I would not investigate any
of the facts without the express written permission of the court, that
I would not talk to either side at any time during the trial, and that
I would not talk about the trial to anyone.?

?Blind since birth, Olegario "Ollie" D. Cantos VII became one of the
highest-placed people with a disability in the federal government
today when he recently accepted a commission from Attorney General
John D. Ashcroft to serve as Special Assistant to Assistant Attorney
General R. Alexander Acosta in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S.
Department of Justice. Responsibilities include fostering closer ties
between the Department and disability rights leaders at all levels,
enhancing roll-out of Project Civic Access, expanding the ADA Business
Connection, increasing the number of state building codes to become
ADA certified, and establishing and strengthening new cross-agency
partnerships to enhance national disability rights enforcement.?

Esber Yagmurdereli
   ?Esber Yagmurdereli is a Turkish writer, lawyer, and human right
activist. Esber is blind, and he has been in jail since June 1998,
because he made a speech criticizing the Turkish Governments treatment
of the Kurdish minority in the south-east provinces. Esber
Yagmurdereli is the European Lawyers Union, Human Rights Laureate for
the Year 2000, and was awarded the sixth Ludovic-Trarieux
International Human Rights Prize in March. The European Lawyers Union
has called for the immediate release of Esber Yagmurdereli.
Born in 1945, Yagmurdereli went blind at the age of ten. He graduated
from Ankara University in law and philosophy, and then qualified as a
lawyer. During the 1970s, when he practised in Turkeys Black Sea
region, he became prominent for his defence of many leading left-wing
political figures and political prisoners. He simultaneously edited
several magazines, including Yeni Eylem, a political journal founded
in 1968, and he made a name for himself as a poet and short-story
writer. One of his short stories won him a famous literary prize.?
?Esber Yagmurdereli was finally released on Monday, November 10th,
1997, after being pardoned by President Demirel, officially - on
health reasons - but in truth on the eve of the European Unions
Luxembourg summit, and against his will as well. Just in time for the
government to convince the leaders at the Luxembourg Summit that
Turkey was truly democratizing, but, seeing that his release had not
served its purpose and managed to sway the European Unions decision,
it relented of the former parole. Indeed, the decision that had been
taken regarding his case only postponed, for one year, the two
sentences pronounced against him.
His arrest was re-ordered in January 1998 and, despite international
protests on his behalf, Esber Yagmurdereli was jailed on Monday, June
1st, 1998, in Ankara, while visiting his lawyer. This arrest results
from his refusal to provide a medical certificate to support the
presidential claim that he was pardoned because of his health
Yagmurdereli is now in Cankiri Prison, about 130 kilometres from the
Turkish capital of Ankara. It is believed that, taking into account
Turkeys complicated laws regarding remission of sentences, he is due
for release in about 2015. Yagmurdereli, meanwhile, seems resigned to
the fact that for some time to come he is destined to stay in jail. As
he once observed :- There is nothing further I can do. I am ready to
go to jail and wait for a political decision, for political change,
for constitutional change, that will allow me to be freed.?

Stephen Gregory
   ?Deaf resident wins fight with court
From: The Gloucester County Times, NJ - Aug 29, 2004
By Denise Jewell , PITMAN --Stephen Gregory will finally get a
transcript of his day in court.
For eight years the Pitman resident, who is deaf, has been fighting
the state's Administrative Office of the Courts to provide him with a
written version of court proceedings.
Gregory, who uses a Computer Aided Real-Time Translation system to
follow words spoken in the court, requested in 1996 that the state
provide him with a written printout of the system's translation, which
is typically scrolled on a computer monitor.
After the state denied his requests, Gregory sued the state three
years later over the records issue in April 1999.

Abigail Strauss
   ?Abigail Strauss has excelled at almost every stage of her young life.
The former Danvillian performed well in elementary, middle and high
schools. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in college with a
record of good grades. She has held two highly responsible positions
in social work and counseling, the current post being at a prestigious
school in New York City, where she lives by herself and gets around as
well as a veteran cabbie. She has traveled alone around the country
and the world.
All of this and Strauss is only 29, deaf and nearly blind.
"I (recently) taught a class for a group of hearing parents from
around the world who had just found out that their children were deaf.
I was teaching them how to work with their children," she said Strauss
through interpretation provided by her mother, Carolyn Strauss.
"Some of the parents told me after the class that I was an
inspiration. They were impressed that I am deaf-blind (but) am able to
live a normal life," she said.?

Dr. Stanley Wainapel
   ?Dr. Stanley Wainapel sizes up the problem immediately. Arthritis
has eaten away one seventy-one?year?old knee and is gnawing at the
other. The prospect of surgery terrifies her. Wainapel checks the
movement in the patient's arms and legs, prods the left knee until it
hurts. "You're made of pretty sturdy stuff," he tells Myra Edelstein,
walking back to his desk. "You should come through the surgery fine."
     His voice is reassuring, but he's looking in the wrong direction.
"Hey, Doc!" Edelstein yells. "I'm over here, Doc."
     Wainapel straightens his gaze with a slightly embarrassed smile.
As Edelstein is leaving, she notices a thin white cane propped beside
a bookcase in the corner. "He's blind!" she exclaims." My doctor is
     With his thick silver hair and silver?rimmed glasses, his staff
jokes that Wainapel looks like Andy Warhol. He cuts a striking figure
as he strides through the hospital, white coat flapping, white cane
tapping out a path in front: past cabinets and counters and bewildered
onlookers who quickly step out of his way.
     Sometimes he bumps into patients. Sometimes he bumps into walls.
And some days Wainapel, the fifty-four?year?old clinical director of
rehabilitation at Montefiore Medical Center, has to reassure himself
as much as his patients that he was right to choose medicine as his

Lisa Newton
   ?Lisa was born with glaucoma, which causes hardening of the eyeball
with progressive loss of vision. She had her first corrective surgery
at 4 months. Growing up, she could see big print, colors and shapes.
When Lisa was 6, she would board the bus every Sunday afternoon for
the 4-½ hour ride to the Indiana school for the blind. She would
return home on Friday night. Each week, her mother would stand in the
driveway and cry, watching the bus until it went out of sight. "That
was the hardest thing, even harder than finding out that Lisa was
going to be blind," Sharon Newton, Lisa's mother said. At first, Lisa
cried with her, and begged to stay home. But after a few weeks, she
enjoyed her classes and new friends and preferred to stay at school on
weekends. This independent streak has stayed with her through life.
"Lisa did everything. She was not scared of anything."
By the time Lisa was 14, she had undergone 21 surgeries to correct her
vision. When her doctor recommended emergency surgery less than a
month after another operation, Lisa knew her eyes could not stand the
stress. When she woke up from the anesthesia, the doctor shone a blue
light into her eyes. Lisa watched as the light brightened, and then
faded into darkness. "Well, we did all we could." The doctor said in a
cold detached tone. Then he left the room. Lisa went into a deep
depression. She withdrew from friends and family. But after a few
weeks, she grew tired of feeling sorry for herself.?
"Lisa is the strongest person I know," said her older sister, Melissa
Chek. "She has known a lot of pain in her life and has come out
stronger." Melissa is a protective sister, nine years older than Lisa.
She grew up watching Lisa overcome adversity.
Lisa followed in Melissa's footsteps by attending Western. She takes
the shuttle bus to classes on south campus. Her professors have been
accommodating when Lisa needs more time to complete assignments, and
encourage her writing talents. Lori Ann Jones, an orientation and
mobility specialist, visits once a week to guide Lisa around campus.
She says Lisa is a fast learner and should be able to get around
independently in a few weeks. Next summer Lisa will train for two
months in California so she can receive a guide dog.?

Appius Claudius Cek
   ?The other is a Roman politician Appius Claudius Cek, who lived in
the year 312 B.C. and under whose leadership Rome built its
infrastructure, such as the urban water-supply system (Aqua Appia)
which is still functioning, and Via Appia, a strategically important
cobble -stone road connecting Rome with the South of the country.?

Dr. Betsy Zaborowski
   ?Editor?s Note: Over the past year I have had the pleasure of
working with Dr. Zaborowski on one of the most innovative, exciting
Braille projects since the Braille Readers Are Leaders National
Contest was launched about 20 years ago. The Braille Is Beautiful
program could, I think, do more to promote the cause of wide-spread
acceptance and integration of blind kids into their schools and
communities than any other single program that has come along in
decades. The key to its success, however, is implementation. I urge
readers to contact local schools and ask them to get a Braille Is
Beautiful Curriculum kit and USE IT! Several organizations around  the
 country ? NFB state affiliates, schools for the blind, libraries,
instructional resource centers, and so forth ? have already purchased
the kit and will make it available to teachers and schools who want to
implement the program.?

?The Institute, under Dr. Zaborowski's supervision, launched three
inaugural projects: the NFB Science Academy-a dynamic science
education project in partnership with NASA; online courses-designed to
educate teachers, parents, and technologists about blindness; and the
development of the first hand-held reading machine for the blind-the
Kurzweil National Federation of the Blind Reader. Additional programs
of the Institute include: outreach to seniors losing vision; early
childhood projects; access technology training, testing, and
evaluation; research collaborations; development of the Jacobus
tenBroek Library in the Institute; and a multi-year plan to engage the
engineering community around the country to develop the nonvisual
interface for a vehicle blind people can drive one day.
Dr. Zaborowski had held the position of director of special programs
for eight years previous to her present position. She was responsible
for program development and community outreach nationally with a focus
on technology, seniors, and educational initiatives. Along with the
development of key partnerships with businesses and universities,
under her direction the NFB established the NFB's annual Celebration
fundraiser, a national Meet the Blind public awareness campaign, the
Braille Is Beautiful curriculum for sighted children, and the annual
Seniors Low Vision Resource Fair.?

Matthew Robert Burns
   Matthew Robert Burns (1798-1880) was the first deaf man to become a
head teacher of a school for the deaf. There is a brief account of him
in Jackson?s book, but a much more detailed account in the history of
deaf education in Bristol, by Dan Hershon, which is in the library. He
was born in Dundee but as his father was a major in the army, he moved
to London and he went to the Old Kent Road School. He moved back to
Edinburgh where he helped set up a deaf church. There seemed to be a
very active community in Edinburgh at this time; there were deaf
artists, and teachers. It is hard to know but it is almost certainly a
result of the development of the school for the deaf which began in
1810. In 1834 he moved to Aberdeen as a head teacher. As far as we
know this makes him the first deaf head teacher in the UK. From there
he came to Bristol, the first deaf headteacher in England. But he
lasted only for two years; he left after he came into conflict with
his management committee. Their main complaint seemed to be against
his sister as housekeeper. Without his sister, he seemed to be lost as
she interpreted for him. So if she had to go, he would not stay. He
gave up teaching. He moved back to London and became a "social worker"
(or the equivalent of that time) and was active as secretary of an
organisation which led to the development of what became the RADD
(Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb). His work after Bristol was
mainly religious and he taught only in bible classes but preached

Walter Geikie
   Walter Geikie (1795-1837) was another artist. He was taught through
fingerspelling by his father. He went to the Braidwood school which
opened in 1810 in Edinburgh and was a star pupil. He was involved with
Matthew Burns in setting up the deaf church. He died at an early age
of 41. His paintings and etchings are still available.

James "Deaf" Burke
   James "Deaf" Burke (1809-1845) was a young man who became a prize
fighter. His claim to fame was that he became heavyweight boxing
champion. But he had the misfortune of being involved in the first
fight where someone died. He went to   America and then returned to
the UK. He died penniless.

James "Deaf" Burke (1804-1876) was a deaf man who followed his
father?s profession and became a barrister. He went to the Old Kent
Road School and was a private pupil of the headteacher - Joseph
Watson. He spent some time in Edinburgh as he was registered as a
member of the deaf church there. He wrote down messages to hearing
people but fingerspelled to his family - and probably signed to deaf
people. He became a conveyancer - a specialist in house and property
transfers. He learned many languages including Latin, Greek and
Hebrew. He became ill in the 1870?s and so missed out on the big
development for deaf people at that time.

Tomoyuki Hoshiyama
   ?Tomoyuki Hoshiyama, a blind acupuncturist who now teaches at the
Hiratsuka School for the Blind in Hiratsuka City south of Tokyo, puts
it this way, "One of the most interesting things I discovered by
practicing acupuncture was that, after a while, the needle became an
extension of my body. It was like my fingers grew longer so I could
put them inside and get a better idea of what was happening¾ kind of
like reading Braille, but it is the body that I read."
Hoshiyama, a gentle but commanding presence in his mid-thirties, began
studying acupuncture when he was 19, needling his parents for homework
in order to perfect his technique¾ a sacrifice he describes as
"painful for them, difficult for me." He says he went into teaching
five years ago because he wanted to help other blind people make
positive contributions to society. "The process of treating, involves
me and another patent, but by teaching, the person I have taught can
then treat someone else and the influence will spread on a much larger
scale. Plus, I believe that by example¾ for instance when my students
see that I, a blind person, can go to America or give a lecture in
England¾ I provide proof that they too can succeed."

Emily Wharton
   Webmaster/Network Administrator, Careers Instructor
?I have been working at BLIND, Inc. in a variety of positions since
1998. I came to work here because going through a similar training
program dramatically changed my life and I wanted to help other people
have that same experience. Prior to training, I spent a large portion
of my life trying to pretend that I wasn't blind. I wasted alot of
time and missed a lot of opportunities because I didn't have the
skills or the confidence to try new things. But since I have come to
really believe that being blind is okay and I don't need to be afraid
or ashamed, I never miss a chance to have a new adventure. It's a
great feeling, and I want to help other blind people to find it for
themselves. Outside of work, I enjoy roller blading, wood carving,
playing basketball, going to concerts and plays, or just hanging out
at coffee shops or the lakes. I really love this city. I can be
shopping downtown, hop a bus, and twenty minutes later I am sitting on
the beach or hiking through a bird sanctuary. You just can't beat
that. My great passion, however, is poetry. I love reading it and I
love writing it. In the fall of 2002, I moved into my current
half-time position at BLIND in order to begin work on a Master of Fine
Arts in writing degree .?

Ronnie Milsap
   ?Country singer. Born January 16, 1944, in the Appalachian town of
Robbinsville, North Carolina. Blind since birth, Milsap spent his
early childhood in an impoverished farming community. With financial
support from his grandparents, he attended the Morehead State School
for the Blind in Raleigh, where he was schooled in classical music and
learned to play the piano, violin, and guitar.?

Thomas Pryor Gore(Nearly blind)
   ?U.S. Senator; born in Walthall, Miss. Despite his near blindness
(he was known as the "Blind Orator") he practiced law. Settling in
Oklahoma Territory (1901), he became the most influential politician
there, and after leading the territory to statehood, he became one of
its first two U.S. senators (Dem., 1907--21). A populist in domestic
matters, he opposed U.S. entry into World War I and the League of
Nations. He lost the Democratic primary in 1920, but was reelected in
1930. In his final term (1931--37), he opposed much of the New Deal
except for legislation supporting farmers.?
Marla Runyan, Olympic Runner(nearly blind, legally blind)
?One of the women representing the United States in the 1500 meter
track event at the 2000 Olympics was Marla Runyan. The American runner
finished seventh in her preliminary heat and rose to sixth in the
semifinals to qualify for the finals. During the final race, Marla
lost track of the major competitors. She finished in eighth position,
3.20 seconds behind the gold medal winner.
In 1996, Marla set several track and field records at the Paralympics
in Atlanta, Georgia. Following that success, Marla wanted to compete
in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney -- even though she is legally blind.
The 31-year-old runner has been diagnosed with Stargardt disease. This
is a condition that leaves her with a limited ability to see what is
in front of her. In Sydney, Marla became the first legally blind
athlete to compete in an Olympics.?

Theis the Blind
   This musician is very obscure, and this is all I found on him. You
can safely consider him a very little known blind person!
Theis the Blind (1747-1824) . 150th Anniversary of Death. 
Theis the Blind was a wandering minstrel who was well known for
propogating the Luxembourg dialect through popular songs. His real
name was Mathias Schou.?

Shri Jagdish K. Patel
   Founder of the ?BLIND PEOPLES ASSOCIATION? in India

Erik Weihenmayer
   ?Thirty year old Weihenmayer lives in Colorado and thrives on
challenge. He is a marathon runner, a long-distance biker, a sky
diver, and a well known, highly experienced rock and mountain climber.
He has climbed the highest peak on three of the world's seven
continents and scaled the Nose of El Capitan. He plans to attempt an
ascent of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, in 2001. Erik
Weihenmayer is also totally blind.?

?Despite losing his vision at the age of 13, Erik Weihenmayer has
become one of the celebrated and accomplished athletes in the world.
Re-defining what it means to be blind, Erik has transformed the image
of blindness and opened up the minds of people around the world. He
has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an
exhilarating and fulfilling life.
On May 25, 2001, Erik became the first blind climber in history to
reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, Mt. Everest. At the
age of 34, Erik became one of less then 100 individuals to climb all
of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks on each of the seven
continents. He completed this incredible accomplishment on September
5, 2002 when he stood on top of Mt. Kosciusko in Australia.

Erik is a former middle school teacher and wrestling coach who has
made his way on to the cover of Time, Outside, and Climbing magazines.
He has also been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC's Today, the
Tonight Show, and Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
In addition to being a world-class athlete, Erik is also the author of
the best selling book, Touch the Top of the World. According to
Publisher's Weekly, Erik's memoir is:
"Moving and adventure packed. Weihenmayer tells his extraordinary
story with humor, honesty, and vivid detail, and his fortitude and
enthusiasm are deeply inspiring."
He is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the prestigious
Free Spirit Award and the 2002 ESPN, ESPY award.
Most of all, he is a proud husband, and a father to his four year old
daughter, Emma.?

Joaquín Rodrigo
   ?It is doubtful that Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
could have foreseen that his Concierto de Aranjuez would endure to
become the most well-known guitar concerto of the 20th century. But
its heart-tugging melodies and quintessential Spanish atmosphere,
miraculously composed by a man rendered virtually blind as a toddler,
continue to serve as moving testimony to the transcendent power of
Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The
youngest of 10 children, he had not yet turned four when an epidemic
of diphtheria destroyed much of his sight. Moving with his family to
Valencia, he began to exhibit a particular interest in music and
literature. Starting with informal instruction at the Valencia
Conservatoire, he excelled in piano and composition. His first
composition dates from 1923; like all his works, it was initially
written in Braille and later transcribed by a copyist.
Following the footsteps of other young composers Albéniz, Falla and
Turina, Rodrigo moved to Paris in 1927, becoming a student of master
composer Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique. He was soon
introduced to the great composer Manuel de Falla, who championed his
A few years later, Rodrigo met the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi. The
two married on January 19, 1933, after which Victoria gave up her
professional career to dedicate herself exclusively to her husband.
The couple returned briefly to Spain, where Rodrigo received both the
Circulo de Bellas Artes prize and a scholarship that enabled him to
continue composing and writing in Paris.?


Etienne de Fay
   ?One of the first deaf people we know about with any detail was
Etienne de Fay. He was deaf from birth and was sent to the Abbey of
Amiens in France when he was 5 years old. As far as we know he always
used sign language but it is not clear how he learned it. He lived in
the Abbey all of his life and became an architect, sculptor, librarian
and teacher of deaf children. He came from a wealthy family yet he
seemed a grass roots type of deaf person. He was a very good architect
and his drawings can be seen in the book by Fischer and Lane (1993).
His work as a teacher was interrupted when his pupil was taken away by
parents to study with Pereire (a Portuguese man, working in France)
who said he could teach deaf children to speak. His story has been
lost in the past until recently when it was re-discovered.?

Pierre Desloges 
   ?He was born in the Touraine region of France and moved to Paris as
a young man, where he became a bookbinder. In 1779, he wrote a book,
which is claimed to be the only book written completely by a deaf
person in that century. In it he corrected the view that people had,
that de l?Epee had invented sign language. He showed that sign
language had come from deaf people. He wrote a number of works around
the time of the French Revolution and these received quite a lot of
notice. He was a member of the deaf community but he was never trained
by de l?Epee who seemed to keep his distance. We do not know when he
died but it was after 1794.?

Richard Crosse
  (1742-1810) Crosse was a famous portrait artist who seems to have
become wealthy from his work. There is a long account of his meeting
with his cousin just before she died, in Jackson?s book, and although
there is no signing in it, it gives some indication of what a deaf
person might have felt.?

Heather Whitestone
   ?There she is...Miss America. But unlike other Miss America crown
holders, Heather never actually heard those words in 1995 as she was
crowned. Miss Whitestone was the first person with a disability ever
to be selected as Miss America. Heather had been deaf since the age of
18 months.?
?Heather Whitestone is currently the spokesperson for the Helen Keller
Eye Research Foundation and the Starkey Hearing Aid Foundation. She
has also authored a book entitled, Listening with My Heart. Ms.
Whitestone is a motivational speaker who believes in and promotes
following your dreams. She is now married and expecting her second
child in 2001.?

Marlee Matlin
   ?Marlee Matlin (born 1965) won an Academy Award for her role as
Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God in 1987. Just 21 years old,
Matlin was the youngest performer ever to receive the "best actress"
award, as well as the first hearing-impaired person to be given the
honor. Since then, Matlin has performed regularly in films and
television, and founded her own production company.
Matlin was born on August 4, 1965 in Morton Grove, a suburb of
Chicago. She had normal hearing at birth, but contracted roseola
(measles) at the age of 18 months. The illness produced a high fever
and serious complications, including the loss of most of her hearing.
Today, Matlin wears a hearing aid and communicates by reading lips and
using sign language. Unlike some hearing-impaired people, Matlin can
speak, but relies on an interpreter for business meetings and
interviews. "When I was young I knew I was deaf," she told People
magazine in 1986. "I couldn't accept it. I was very angry??

Marlee Matlin is a stand-up comedian and an actress. Some of her films
include Dead Silence, It's My Party, Hear No Evil, Bridge to Silence,
Walker, and Children of A Lesser God. In 1987, she captivated the
world by winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the film
Children of a Lesser God.
Marlee Matlin became deaf in infancy due to Roseola infantum. However,
deafness has not disabled her or her career.

Shawn Dale Barnett
Deaf drummer

?While attending Kansas School for the Deaf, he was told that being
deaf would keep him from success in the music business. There he was
beaten regularly by older classmates who didn't believe his claim that
he was able to play the drums. He eventually proved them wrong and won
$20 in the bargain. After he graduated from K.S.D., he pursued his
dream, was one of the first professional deaf drummers, and eventually
became the first deaf man to have a top hit on MTV.
He has also done much to communicate his sounds directly to
hearing-impaired fans. His one-man show presents his "deaf music" that
features a new type of rhythm, drum vibrations, speeds of time and
visual effects like flashing lights, fog machines, and balloons. A lot
of listeners, including other deaf people, find it hard to believe he
plays and writes so well. The way he puts it is: "I go by just feeling
the vibrations in one way or another."
Today Shawn Dale Barnett participates in deaf-related events and he
teaches music in various schools for the deaf, helping the students
understand vibrations and rhythm. He talks with them about his career
experiences, his family and lifestyle, and learning to live in a
hearing world. He continues to provide an appreciation of music to the
deaf community.

Barnett was born totally deaf in 1963 and spent his early years in
Leavenworth, Kansas. At the age of six months, several tumors were
removed from his left arm. Part of the damage was permanent, so the
arm retained some weakness. It did not, however, hinder his ability to
grasp a drumstick. Very early in Barnett's life, it became obvious
that he could sense musical sounds. When he was five, he started to
play a drum. His family was amazed at his ability to "keep time." As
he put it, "I had a natural rhythm."

Leo Lesquereux
?The peat bogs near his home were young Lesquereux's favorite places,
and, according to Lesley, he " auger...with an adjustable
handle; and with this tool he investigated the character and structure
of the bog... He was the first to determine the true causes and
conditions of peat formation; unconsciously making the first step in
the science of the geology of coal."
Lesquereux went to Neufchatel for his education, and there he
presented his theories about peat formation. At first they were
rejected, but once permitted to demonstrate his ideas on the bog
itself, his theories gained acceptance.
In 1830, Lesquereux married the Baroness Sophia of Eisenach, daughter
of one of Goethe's close friends. He had begun teaching science when
an illness caused him to become completely deaf. He was slowly nursed
back to health by his devoted wife, who supported the family herself
until he was able to resume his livelihood as an engraver of watches.

When Lesquereux was nearly forty, the King of Prussia commissioned him
to investigate the origin, growth, size, and economic potential of the
peat bogs of Prussia. Having carried this out, Lesquereux then
traversed several European countries and the Dismal Swamp of Virginia
and North Carolina. Lesley reports that Lesquereux was often "alone,
unarmed and deaf, far over the prairies of the West, sleeping on the
grass without covering, sometimes several nights in succession."
Lesley continues:
Lesquereux followed Agassiz, Desor, Guyot and Matile to America in
1848. He settled his family in Columbus, Ohio, where his sons began
business on several thousand dollars' worth of watches loaned for this
purpose by their father's friends, who took that method of enlarging
their trade. Agassiz had promised him scientific employment, but was
unable to carry into effect his friendly intentions. The family were
at first in great distress; afterwards they prospered; and the father
was able to devote the rest of his life to his adopted science."
According to Lesley, Lesquereux remained poor, and poorly paid for his
work. He was humble in dealing with others and felt that he was
imposing on those he did not know well because of his deafness.
Frequently he asked for those talking to him to repeat themselves,
especially if they didn't realize that he must lip-read them, or if
the speaker wore a beard.
"When introduced to a stranger, and usually when meeting one of his
old friends," Lesley writes, "the first question was: Will you speak
in German, in French, or in English?
"Did you tell me that your friend Lesquereux was deaf?" someone once
asked Lesley, who replied yes.
"But how is that possible? I noticed him talking French in the most
animated manner with his friend just now, and he seemed to hear him as
well as you or I could."
Today, Lesquereux is remembered not only as a paleobotanist, but also
as an exemplary deaf scientist.?

Henrietta Swan Leavitt
   ?A deaf, female scientist?over 100 years ago!
It was never easy being a woman and a scientist. At the end of the
nineteenth century, it was nearly impossible. But Henrietta Leavitt
did it, even becoming famous as she made a significant contribution to
the field of astronomy. Not only that, but she was deaf.
Although the name Leavitt sounds Jewish, Henrietta Leavitt was not
Jewish, but one of seven children of a well-known Protestant minister
from an and old American family. The senior Leavitts scrupulously
observed the precepts of modesty and discipline, and their standards
of conduct served Leavitt well later on when she become an astronomer.
Some upper - class American girls at that time were already getting a
post-secondary education. Leavitt attended one of the first
coeducational colleges, and later transferred to Radcliffe, the
prestigious women?s college of Harvard University. In her last year of
studies, she was «turned on» to astronomy.
Even today, life for a hearing - impaired person isn?t easy, but in
Leavitt?s time, deafness severely limited her options. The mere fact
that a deaf woman managed to successfully complete her studies at that
time is impressive. In any case, she could have married a deaf man of
her social standing, or a hearing man of lower social standing, become
a wife and mother, and give of her time to the church and community
charities. She could also nave chosen to remain single and work in her

Two occupations were poplar among women of her social standing at the
time: schoolteacher or nurse, neither of which was suitable for a deaf
person. Leavitt chose to work in her beloved subject, astronomy.?

?1912 Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) discovered a relation between
the mean brightness and the period of the brightness change of delta
Cepheï stars within the Small Magellanic Cloud. This means that with
the period of such a star also the absolute brightness can be
estimated, and therefor also the distance through the relative
brightness of the star. With this delta Cepheï stars are like "distant
marker" for galaxies, in which they could be identified. They offered
the first hint for the distances within the universe?

Judith Pachciarz
   Judith Pachciarz was physician, microbiologist, and the first
American deaf person to earn a medical degree and a doctoral degree.
?As the first American deaf person to earn a medical degree and a
doctoral degree, Dr. Judith Pachciarz (pronounced Pu-charz) is a
pioneer and a leader. An informal 1987 study found that only 2.6
percent of all physicians and only 0.25 percent of currently enrolled
medical students reported having a disability, while people with
disabilities made up more than 14 percent of the general population.

Judith Pachciarz is affectionately known as ?Dr. Judy? by her patients
and colleagues. She works at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Medical
Center in the Los Angeles Department of Health Services. Her areas of
expertise include the improvement in quality of Pap smears (the
collection of tiny samples of cervical tissue); malaria diagnosis by
hemograms, or ?pictures? of the blood; eosinophilia (an abnormal
increase in white blood cells); and transfusion of safe blood into

Robert Weitbrecht
   ?A deaf scientist, Robert Weitbrecht, is credited with the
development of the TTY in the 1960s. The earliest TTYs were huge hunks
of metal with printer paper coming out of them. I remember seeing one
in the home of a family friend in the early '70s. and being quite
impressed. These early TTYs are now antique, and can only be found in
places such as the Smithsonian.?

?Robert Haig Weitbrecht was born in Orange, California on April 11,
1920. As soon as his parents discovered he was profoundly deaf, they
signed up for a correspondence program that helped them teach him to
sign and lipread.
In a few years, Weitbrecht was enrolled in a private school where
there were small classes for deaf children. Their instructor soon left
to take another job, so a retired teacher was recruited to tutor him.
After this second teacher died (1931), the Weitbrechts sent Robert to
public school.
He was able to keep up with his classmates, but he didn?t like their
teasing and practical jokes. He became more and more uncooperative
until he discovered that he loved science and electrical equipment. He
became fascinated with astronomy in particular; and for the rest of
his life, it remained his passion. (At age 18 he won an award for a
reflecting telescope he built himself.)
Weitbrecht also developed an interest in the radio telegraph. In high
school he became a "radio ham," getting his amateur radio license in
1936 and building his own radios. With them, he was able to make
contact with people all around the country.
Robert graduated with honors in science from Santa Ana Junior College
and matriculated at the University of California in Berkeley He
received a Bachelor?s Degree in Astronomy with honors. (1942). World
War II had begun, so he stayed at Berkeley, working first as a
physicist on the "Manhattan Project" (helping build the first atomic
bomb) and then at the Aeromedical Lab.
In 1947 Weitbrecht was an electronics scientist at the U. S. Naval Air
Missile Test Center in Port Mugu, California where he developed the
"WWV" Radio Time Signal, still used worldwide.
After four years he enrolled at the University of Chicago. As he was
completing requirements for a Master?s Degree in Astronomy there, he
worked at Yerkes Observatory. During his time in Chicago, he helped
develop photoelectric guiding systems and photometers.
Weitbrecht returned to California in 1958, working for 11 years at
Stanford?s Research Institute?s Communication Laboratory. There he
perfected the first electronically- guided camera in the world. He was
also with N.A.S.A.?s satellite program for a few months.
While he was at Stanford, Weitbrecht became a groundbreaker. He began
to investigate possible ways the deaf might communicate with a
teletypewriter (teletype) and radio or telephone. The phone option was
more logical since a radio would require an F.C.C. license. Besides,
more people already had telephones.?

Cornforth, John Warcup
   ?Sept. 7, 1917- 
British, born Australian 
Chemist, scientist, Nobel Prize winner 
Deafened in childhood. Attended the University of Sydney (B.S.C., 1937
and M.S.C., 1938) and Oxford University (D.Phil. 1941). Shared the
Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1975, for his study of the formation of
cholesterol molecules, which revealed how cholesterol is synthesized
in living cells.. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
References: Deaf persons in the arts and sciences, p.83-86; Gallaudet
encyclopedia, vol.1 p.203-204; Who's who, 1976, p.514.?

?I was born on 7 September 1917 at Sydney in Australia. My father was
English-born and a graduate of Oxford; my mother, born Hilda Eipper,
was descended from a German minister of religion who settled in New
South Wales in 1832. I was the second of four children.

Part of my childhood was spent in Sydney and part in rural New South
Wales, at Armidale. When I was about ten years old the first signs of
deafness (from otosclerosis) became noticeable. The total loss of
hearing was a process that lasted more than a decade, but it was
sufficiently gradual for me to attend Sydney Boys' High School and to
profit from the teaching there. In particular a good young teacher,
Leonard Basser, influenced me in the direction of chemistry; and this
seemed to offer a career where deafness might not be an insuperable

I entered Sydney University at the age of 16, and though by that time
unable to hear any lecture I was attracted by laboratory work in
organic chemistry (which I had done in an improvised laboratory at
home since the age of 14) and by the availability of the original
chemical literature. In 1937 I graduated with first-class honours and
a University medal. After a year of post-graduate research I won an
1851 Exhibition scholarship to work at Oxford with Robert Robinson.
Two such scholarships were awarded each year, and the other was won by
Rita Harradence, also of Sydney and also an organic chemist. This
began an association which continues to this day. We were married in
1941, and have three children and two grandchildren.?

Nicolle, Charles Henri
   ?Sept. 21, 1866-Feb. 28, 1936, French 
Medical researcher, medicine, Nobel Prize winner 
Born at Rouen, France; deafened at about age 20 while studying
medicine. Became a biological researcher; became director of the
Pasteur Institute in Tunis, Tunisia. While in Tunis, he discovered the
propagation of eanthematic typhus by lice, demonstrating and proving
that the louse is the carrier of the virus that causes typhus. He
eventually won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1928 for
this work (the first deaf person to win a Nobel Prize). He also made
other important discoveries in the spread and control of epidemic
diseases. Died at Tunis. Has been honored on Tunisian and French
postage stamps. References: Deaf persons in the arts and sciences,
p.276-278; Silence of the spheres, p.107-108.?

Sherrington, Charles 
Nov. 27, 1857-1952 
Physician, medicine, Nobel Prize winner 
Late-deafened. Was President of the Royal Society in 1920 and a member
of the Order of Merit. Shared the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physiology or
Medicine, 1932, for his research on the nervous system and the
functions of neurons. Knighted by the King of England.
Reference: Silence of the spheres, p.103.

Annie Jump Cannon
   ?Annie Jump Cannon was born in Dover, Delaware on December 11,
1863. She was the eldest of three daughter. Wilson Cannon was a
prosperous shipbuilder and state senator . Her mother Mary Jump was
his second wife. Like outstanding woman astronomer, Henrietta P.
Leavitt, Annie suffered a handicap in her youth. She was very hard of
hearing. Despite her handicap she lead a relatively normal like and
ultimately achieved extraordinary success. Annie's interest in
astronomy was first sparked by her mother, when as a young girl taught
her the constellations. At Wellesley College she pursued these
interests, learning physics, astronomy, even how to make spectroscopic
measurements. (for more inf. go to the education page) After she
graduated from Wellesley Annie returned home to Delaware and was a
dutiful daughter. She also became an expert in the new field of
photography. Annie loved to travel and in 1892 she traveled through
Europe taking pictures with her new box camera. The following
photograph was taken in Spain. Here she has captured the essence of
the Mosque of Cordova.?

John Goodricke
   ?John Goodricke was born September 17, 1764 in Groningen as a son
of a British diplomat and a dutch merchant daughter. With the age of
five he got scarlet fever and lost his hearing abilities completely
because of it. But after a proper education he was able to read lips
and to speak. For this, the rich parents had sent him to a specialized
school in Edinburgh. 1778 with the age of thirteen he was able to go
to the academy in Warrington near York which had no special treatment
or equipment for handicapped persons.?

?Goodricke discovered also the variable star Altais or better known as
delta Cepheï. He calculated the period of this star to 128 hours and
45 minutes with an outstanding correctness. The visible brightness of
the star is varying between 3m6 and 4m4 within this time span. But
Goodricke's theories about the reason of the variability came to an
end on this star.
The star delta Cepheï became name giving for an own class of massive
suns - the delta-Cepheï stars or Cepheïds. Because of inner
thermonuclear processes and an interaction between gravity and
radiation pressure they blow up periodically and shrink in defined
time spans. They not only change their size, but also their color,
surface temperature and brightness in the same period. The brightness
variation has a typical shark fin form.

John Goodricke was admitted to the Royal Society at April the 16th
1786 already when 21 years old. He didn't recognized this honor
anymore, because he died in 1786 at April the 20th in York by
pneumonia. One of the halls of the York university is named after him
in remembrance.?

?John Goodricke (1764-1786) became deaf in childhood and was educated
at Braidwood?s Academy in Edinburgh. He became a famous astronomer and
a Fellow of the Royal Society. However, he died very young, it is said
after catching a chill from working outdoors in the cold night air.?

Additionally, the following site has numerous deaf scientists, many of
which are contemporary.

Other Disabilities

Henry Holden
   From the time he was a young child, Henry Holden?s dream was that
of becoming an actor. To date Henry has numerous acting credits to his
name. He has made appearances on T. J. Hooker, AFTERmash, Hill Street
Blues, Knots Landing, Hunter, Dear John, and Kids Incorporated. Henry
also starred in a rock video, entitled, "I Got News for You." In
addition to acting, Henry is an athlete, stand-up comic, and activist.
Henry?s athletic accomplishments include downhill skiing, certified
scuba diving, bowling a high score of 196 in league competition,
flying gliders and single engine airplanes, riding at the National
Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and finishing in
the Los Angeles Marathon. Finishing the New York City Marathon is on
Henry?s "To Do" list!

Henry Holden contracted polio during the 1952 Epidemic. He was four
years old at that time. His disability has never stopped him from
pursuing a path of excellence in his life, even though he wears leg
braces and uses crutches. In addition to his acting career he now
speaks on the guest lecture circuit on college campuses and K-12
schools across the country. Henry is a tireless advocate for the
inclusion of persons with disabilities in all forms of entertainment
and media.

 He is the founder of Performers with Disabilities for the Screen
Actors Guild, and recently, he was the recipient of the very first
American Scene Award given by the Screen Actors Guild and the American
Federation of Television and Radio Arts for the rock video he starred
in entitled I?ve Got News For You. Henry?s motto is "Attitudes are the
Real Disability!"
See Henry's web site for more information on this actor, comedian, and

Jhamak Ghimire
  Nepalese Poet and Writer (1980)
?Ghimire was born with cerebral palsy and taught herself to read and
write. "Now she has been a known literary person in Nepal. As a result
of her dedication to literature writing, she has been awarded by
Kabita Ram Bal Sahitya Prativa Puraskar 2055, Aswikrit Bichar Sahitya
Puraskar 2056 and many other letters of felicitation from different
social organization. Some people would like to address her as 'Hellen
Keller of Nepal'.?

Chris Burke
Disability: Downs Syndrome (source: Chris Burke Web Pages)
·Appeared on US ABC sitcom "Life Goes On"

Joanne Duffy and Marie Murphy
?Many New Zealanders who are blind or vision impaired have achieved
internationally. Snow skier Joanne Duffy was the first woman to win a
gold medal at the 1994 Paralympics for disabled people in Norway.
Marie Murphy led her New Zealand team to win a gold medal in the
Second World Blind Sailing Regatta in Australia and Glen Putze won a
gold medal at the 1993 World Disabled Waterskiing Championships in

Sabriye Tenberken
   ?In the summer of 1997 Sabriye Tenberken, blind herself, travelled
within the T.A.R to investigate the possibility of providing training
for Tibetan blind and visually impaired people. Sabriye realised there
were no programs educating and rehabilitating blind people within the
T.A.R. She then took the initiative to found the present project. For
the start of the project she received help from a local school in
Lhasa which provided  space. A local counterpart took care of all the
official paperwork.
Initially for her own use in her study of Tibetology at Bonn
university, Sabriye developed a Tibetan script for the blind. This
script combines the principles of the Braille system with the special
features of the Tibetan syllable-based script. This script for the
blind was submitted for close examination to an eminent Tibetan
scholar, who found it to be readily understandable, simple, and easy
to learn. As Tibetans until now had had no script for the blind, he
suggested to Sabriye that she let blind Tibetans take use of it.

?Sabriye studied Central Asian Studies at Bonn University. In addition
to Mongolian and modern Chinese, she studied modern and classical
Tibetan in combination with sociology and philosophy. As no blind
student had ever before ventured to enroll in these kind of studies,
she could not fall back on any experiences of anyone else so had to
develop her own methods to come to terms with her course of studies.
It was thus that a Tibetan script for the blind was developed. Sabriye
coordinates and counsels the project. She is responsible for the
training of teachers and trainers for the blind and initially she
taught the children herself. Further she selects and supervises all
staff-members. Sabriye is also responsible for fundraising and
communication with official and sponsor organisations.

Sabriye Tenberken wrote a book in which she tells about the history of
the project and about the way she dealt with becoming blind. The book
has been published in 11 languages: Original title: "Mein Weg fuehrt
nach Tibet", English:"My Path leads to Tibet" (Arcade Publishing
house, New York).?

David Blunkett (MP) 
?The Right Honourable David Blunkett MP was appointed Home Secretary
on 8 June 2001.
Mr Blunkett was first elected to Parliament in June 1987, representing
the Sheffield Brightside seat. He was Opposition spokesman on
Environment (Local Government) from 1988 to 1992 and then Shadow
Secretary of State for Health 1992 to 1994, Education 1994 to 1995 and
Education and Employment when the departments merged from 1995. From 2
May 1997, he served as Secretary of State for Education and

?Born in June 1947, he was educated at the Sheffield School for the
Blind, Royal Normal College for the Blind, Shrewsbury Technical
College, Sheffield Richmond College of Further Education, the
University of Sheffield and Huddersfield College of Education. He is a
former member of the National Association of Teachers in Further and
Higher Education, and is currently a member of the public service
union UNISON.
His early political career was spent in local government, on the South
Yorkshire County Council from 1973 to 1977 and on Sheffield City
Council from 1970 to 1988, where he was chair of the Social Services
Committee from 1976 to 1980 and Leader from 1980 to 1987.
Mr Blunkett has a National Certificate in Business Studies as well as
A levels, a degree and Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He also
has advanced RSA typing and 100 words per minute Braille shorthand.
His special interests range from education and local government to
community development and citizenship and the role of civil society.
He enjoys walking, sailing, music and poetry. Mr Blunkett has three

Jim Abbott 
   ?Born, Sept. 19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan without a right hand. He
was an All-America hurler at Michigan; won Sullivan Award in 1987;
threw 4-0 no-hitter for NY Yankees vs. Cleveland (Sept. 4, 1993). Jim
played for 10 seasons on 4 different teams and ended his big league
playing career in 1999. Today, in addition to being a Pitching
Instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational
speaker. Unique as a sports speaker because his story, and the way he
delivers it, appeals to many types of audiences, even those who are
not sports fans. In his keynotes, Jim Abbott uses motivational sports
stories of how he overcame adversity, and anecdotes from his career as
a professional baseball pitcher.?

Randolph Bourne
   1886-1918. American radical essayist during social revolution in
America in 20s & 30s. Disfigured at birth by physician's forceps.
Stunted and hunchbacked by spinal tuberculosis at age four. ?An
essayist and intellectual who lived in Greenwich Village, Bourne is an
early figure of America's "bohemian" counterculture. Bourne was maimed
by forceps during his birth, giving him a disfigured face; spinal
tuberculosis at age 4 left him a hunchback. Despite the handicaps
Bourne graduated from Columbia University in 1913 and joined the staff
of The New Republic, where he made a name for himself as left-leaning
essayist and intellectual.

He was an outspoken critic of World War I even after America entered
the war, a position which made him highly unpopular. He died in the
influenza epidemic of 1918, shortly after the war ended. His
best-known work is Youth and Life (1913).?

Chuck Close
  1940- American painter. Paints large photrealistic canvases. Uses a
wheelchair. ?When Close was 11, his life became pure hell. His father
died. His mother, a trained pianist who in the Great Depression gave
up her aspirations for concert career, got breast cancer. They lost
their home because of medical bills. His grandmother was diagnosed
with Parkinson's disease. And Close, an only child, spent most of the
year in bed with nephritis, a nasty kidney infection.
One thing did help him cope with the mind-numbing agony, sadness and misery: art.
He always liked to draw. At age 4, he knew he wanted to be an artist.
At the age of 5, his dad made him an easel for his birthday and got
him a set of oil paints from Sears. In an attempt to win friends and
"get kids to be around me," he also did magic and puppet shows. He
drew and painted. People noticed.
Little did Charles Thomas Close know back then that he would indeed to
go to college, graduating not only from the University of Washington
in 1962 (magna cum laude) but from Yale as well. Now, at the age of
57, he is one of the true superstars of art.

His works hang in the world's most prestigious museums, he is
considered by ARTNews magazine to be one of the 50 most influential
people in the art world--and he is so big he turned down a major
retrospective at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art because
promises were broken. He chose the Museum of Modern Art instead. No
one can recall an artist ever turning down the Met.
But this is much more than just the story of a local boy who made
good. On Dec. 7, 1988, at the age of 49, Close was at the height of
his career as a portrait painter when he was stricken with a spinal
blood clot that left him a quadriplegic. Many thought his career was

As he came to grips with life in a motorized wheelchair, unable to
move from the neck down, with little hope for improvement, his biggest
fear was that "I was not going to make art. Since I'll never be able
to move again, I would not be able to make art. I watched my muscles
waste. My hands didn't work."

Itzak Perlman
   Israeli violinist. Uses leg braces because of poliomyelitis at age
four. ?The world falls in love with music when Itzhak Perlman takes up
his violin. A superstar by any standard and a rarity in the classical
field, Perlman has taken hold of the public imagination as few violin
virtuosos ever have, bringing joy to millions with his playing. Having
lost the use of his legs after falling victim to polio at the age of
four, Perlman always sits as he plays. But he never fails to bring
audiences to their feet. Perlman's tone has been described as
aristocratic, but his playing is decidedly populist: from the most
jaded music lovers to the youngest initiates whose love of music
Perlman loves to encourage, it is all but impossible to remain unmoved
by the musician and his music.

His adventurous repertory encompasses virtually the entire classical
repertory for the violin as well as some of the most challenging and
exciting music of today. A master of baroque, classical, romantic and
modern music, he also has lavished his intensely joyful string sounds
on everything from the brave old world of klezmer to the limitless
frontiers of jazz. His own arrangements of Scott Joplin's ragtime
classics have added immeasurably to performance tradition of the
American repertory. His heartrending violin solos in the John Williams
soundtrack score for Steve Spielberg's Oscar-winning picture
Schindler's List proved to be one of Perlman's own proudest
achievements. His most surprising, so far, has been his operatic
debut, as a bass, singing the small role of the Jailer in James
Levine's recording of Puccini's Tosca starring Renata Scotto and
Placido Domingo.?

Wilma Rudolph
   Wilma Rudolph 1940-1995. African-American track and field sprinter.
First American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympic game. At
age four she stricken with scarlet fever, double pneumonia and polio,
causing partial paralysis. ?Born in Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma
Rudolph had suffered from scarlet fever, double pneumonia, and polio
as a child. This left her with limited use of her left leg and she
wore a brace until age nine. By age 12, Rudolph was the fastest runner
in her school. At Burt High School, she starred in both track and
basketball. At a track meet at Tuskegee, Alabama, Rudolph impressed
coach Ed Temple, who invited her to a summer track camp in Nashville,
Tennessee. She won to a place on the 1956 U.S. Olympic 4 x 100-meter
relay team in Melbourne, which won the bronze medal.

In the 1960 Olympic games in Rome, Rudolph won gold medals in the 100-
and 200-meter dashes and the 4 x 100-meter relay. She held the world
record in all three events when she retired from amateur competition
in 1962. After graduating from Tennessee State University in 1963,
Rudolph dedicated her professional life to youth programs and
education. She worked with the Job Corps in St. Louis and Boston, and
the Watts Community Action Committee in Los Angeles, California.
Rudolph was inducted to the Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1973, the
Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
in 1983.?

José  Feliciano
   ?One of the most prominent Latin-born performers of the pop era,
singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano was born September 10, 1945 in Lares,
Puerto Rico; the victim of congenital glaucoma, he was left
permanently blind at birth. Five years later, he and his family moved
to New York City's Spanish Harlem area; there Feliciano began learning
the accordion, later taking up the guitar and making his first public
appearance at the Bronx's El Teatro Puerto Rico at the age of nine.

While in high school he became a fixture of the Greenwich Village
coffeehouse circuit, eventually quitting school in 1962 in order to
accept a permanent gig in Detroit; a contract with RCA followed a
performance at New York's Gerde's Folk City, and within two years he
appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. After bowing with the 1964
novelty single "Everybody Do the Click," he issued his
flamenco-flavored debut LP The Voice and Guitar of Jose Feliciano,
trailed early the next year by The Fantastic Feliciano.?

Jeff Healy
 ?Blues guitarist, singer Jeff Healey was born with a rare form of
cancer called Retinoblastoma in both eyes and was blind by the age of
1. He received his first guitar at age 3 and learned to play it lap
style because his hand wasn't large enough to grip the guitar's neck.

By the age of 14 he was attending Etobicoke Collegiate in Ontario and
playing in bars at night with jazz, blues and country bands. Healey
met drummer Tom Stephen and bassist Joe Rockman in Toronto at a
Grossman's jam session in 1986. Stephen was an urban planning student
and Rockman a studio musician. They soon decided to form a band?

Tom Sullivan
 ?Tom Sullivan, known to many as an actor, singer, entertainer,
author, and producer, lives and works by ?Sullivan?s Rules.? As a
young boy he found himself fenced in his back yard, but he refused to
be fenced in by his blindness. ?Sullivan?s Rules? were invented by Tom
and his father, Porky Sullivan, so he could play baseball with the
neighborhood boys without the benefit of seeing the ball. It became
the most popular game on the block. And ?Sullivan?s Rules? became the
rules to play by in the sighted world and that meant playing almost
One of Sullivan?s first rules is that ?Any negative can be turned into
positive.? Born prematurely in 1947, Tom was given too much oxygen
while in an incubator. Though it saved his life, it cost him his

The ?inconvenience? of being blind has never kept Tom Sullivan from
competing in a world where he realized that to be equal, for him,
meant that he must be better. Even as he may have had to change the
rules slightly, he has proven that one need not be limited by a
handicap whether it is playing backyard baseball as a youngster, or in
any activity he's pursued. Tom is an excellent golfer: ?I?ve never
seen a water hazard. I always have an open shot to the green.? He?s an
avid snow skier and a marathon runner, and has recently been inducted
into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater Oklahoma.?

John Foppe
   ?Born without arms, John Foppe, MSW has faced unique obstacles to
living a normal life. But what he?s always had is an indomitable
perspective on life-a perspective that empowers him to be a creative
By applying his own experiences as well as the unique insights he?s
developed as a trained counselor and motivational speaker, John
advises us how to confidently confront adversity and discover our own
dynamic potential for productivity and fulfillment.

John?s public speaking mission started after he experienced a
life-changing event during a missionary trip to Haiti. Since, he has
traveled throughout the North America, Southeast Asia, and Europe for
more than 15 years delivering high-impact presentations on attitude
change, problem-solving, and performance improvement to corporations
and organizations.
He is the author of a new personal growth and inspirational book
titled What?s Your Excuse? Making The Most Of What You Have published
(Thomas Nelson Publishers, $19.99).

He holds a master?s degree in social service from St. Louis University.
In addition, John is a protégé of motivational speaker and author, Zig
Ziglar, with whom he has worked for over ten years.?
John says (Edited due to copyright restrictions):

?1. Test the limits of the situation 
Sometimes we can attack a problem too hastily. Take a step back, look
at the challenge objectively, and examine it from all angles. If we?re
not careful, we can make the problem seem larger than what it actually
is. A few years ago, I flew by myself to the Philippines to deliver a
seminar. Before the plane landed, I asked the flight attendant to
arrange for someone to help me carry my baggage through the long lines
at the immigration and customs checkpoints. When I got off the plane,
a uniformed woman was waiting for me with a wheelchair. She didn?t
speak English, so I asked the flight attendant to thank her for
helping me, and tell her I didn?t need the wheelchair.

After all, I have two legs?I can walk fine! The two women exchanged
words that I didn?t understand. Soon the flight attendant turned to me
with an embarrassed look on her face. She sheepishly tried to explain
to me that in order to receive assistance through the checkpoints, the
regulations required me to be in the wheelchair. Having no choice, I
climbed in the chair. I felt sorry for the small woman, as she had to
push me down the long narrow terminal to the checkpoints while hauling
my baggage over her shoulder.

 2. Ask for help, and give it back!
Situations occur in all of our lives that allow us to help each other.
For example, living alone gives me a sense of independence. But, when
I am out of town, the flowers still need watering. Thankfully, my
neighbor, Jeanne, an elderly yet able-bodied lady, enjoys walking over
to my yard to give my plants a drink. There are other times that I am
able to help Jeanne. She enjoys cooking, but sometimes she?ll try a
new recipe that calls for a gourmet ingredient that our local grocery
store doesn?t stock. Since Jeanne doesn?t feel safe driving long
distances, she knows that she can always ask me to pick up the unique
ingredient at a specialty food store located on my way to or from St.

Even the most caring neighbor, loving spouse, or giving friend cannot
always read your mind. Sometimes making the most of what you have
involves opening up and trusting others. Unfortunately, every day
thousands of lonely people struggle with financial woes, addictions,
and relationship conflicts because they feel too afraid or embarrassed
to ask for help. Perhaps you don?t like to ask for someone?s help
because you don?t want to be indebted to him or her.

There?s nothing wrong with asking someone to help as long as you?re
not looking to manipulate him or her or avoiding a responsibility.
Helping one another is what makes life meaningful. Just be willing to
return the favor in some way.

3. Do what you can do NOW!
Not knowing what to expect of tomorrow can easily drag your spirits
down and make you feel powerless. Instead of sitting around waiting
for the cloudy sky to part and your gloomy spirit to change, take some
kind of action even if you don?t feel motivated. Taking action not
only stops you from stewing in self-pity and fear, but doing something
helps you gain back some control.?

Brett Eastburn
   ?Motivational Speaker, Brett Eastburn is a man with no arms or
legs; yet, no boundaries.
He is energetic and enthusiastic and sure to inspire your staff or
students as a keynote speaker, motivational speaker, or convocational
Internationally acclaimed and respected motivational speaker that
demonstrates his ability to overcome any obstacles. Brett has spoken
to over a million people around the world, including Okinawa, Japan,
Panama, Canada, and Mexico.?

Alvin Law
   ?Alvin is a speaker like no other. You will recognize him as soon
as he takes off his shoes to eat or read. Born without arms, Alvin has
always lived by the motto "There's no such word as can't!" Alvin's
story is about the incredible power of humanity and the difference one
person can truly make in a world searching for answers to why we're
?In the early 1960's, over 13,000 babies were born with so-called
deformities when their mothers were prescribed the infamous morning
sickness drug, Thalidomide. Not only did the drug cause Alvin Law to
be born without his arms, but also experts suggested his quality of
life would be severely limited. Today, Alvin is married, is a father
and speaks professionally to over 150,000 people a year.
When Alvin was born in the small farming community of Yorkton,
Saskatchewan (Canada), it seemed his future was bleak. His birth
family felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of such a severely
handicapped child and he was given up for adoption. Almost two months
passed without any adoptive parents showing any interest, so baby
Alvin was placed in foster care until a more permanent home could be
found. It turned out to be more than a foster home; he never left.?

There you go. It would be impossible to include aa all inclsive list
of the disabled and their acheivements, but I've attempted to include 
a broad spectrum of people here. If any part of my answer is unclear,
please don't hesitate to request an Answer Clarification, and I'll
answer as soon as possible.

A special *Thank You* to my colleagues boquinha-ga, tutuzdad-ga and
czh-ga who contributed to this list.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
notable deaf people
notable blind people
successful + blind
successful + deaf
blind athletes
Famous people disabilities
dtnl42-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Succesful people born with a severe "disability"
From: brykupono-ga on 25 Jul 2005 15:52 PDT

The list you have compiled here is of significance to me, and I assume
to many others.  As such, I would like to add this information to a
personal webpage of mine.  I would love to give you credit, maybe even
link to a page of yours if you'd like.
Subject: Re: Succesful people born with a severe "disability"
From: crabcakes-ga on 25 Jul 2005 19:50 PDT
Hi Brykupono,

    I very much appreciate your comments. As a Google researcher, I
don't need any "credit", but I ask that you write to the GA editors
about this matter. I'm not certain you can use this material on a
site. You may be able to link to it though.

    Here is the address for the editors:

     I'm so glad  you found the information useful!

Sincerely, Crabcakes
Subject: Re: Succesful people born with a severe "disability"
From: brykupono-ga on 29 Jul 2005 14:39 PDT
OK.  Thanks again.

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