Top 10 Extraordinary People with Disabilities

Top 10_10 Sudha Chandra

10. Sudha Chandran – Disability: Amputee

Sudha Chandran is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Indian film and television actress, who turned to acting following the loss of a leg in an accident in June 1981 near Trichy, Tamil Nadu. Click to read more.

Top 10_9 Marla Runyan

9.  Marla Runyan – Disability: Blind

Marla Runyan is an American track and field athlete, road runner and marathon runner who is legally blind. She is a three-time national champion in the women’s 5000 metres. Click to read more.


Top 10_7 Beethoven

8.  Ludwig van Beethoven – Disability: Deaf

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He struggled with hearing loss and and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf.  Click here to read more.

Top 10_6 Frida Kahlo

7.  Frida Kahlo – Disability: Polio

Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter who is best known for her self-portraits.  Click here to read more.

Top 10_5 Christy Brown

6.  Christy Brown – Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Christy Brown was an Irish writer and painter who had cerebral palsy and was able to write or type only with the toes of one foot. His most recognised work is his autobiography; titled My Left Foot, it was later made into an Academy Award-winning film of the same name.  Click here to read more.

Top 10_4 John Nash

5.  John Nash – Disability: Schizophrenia

John Forbes Nash, Jr. is an American mathematician and recipient of the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  Nash is the subject of the 2001 Hollywood movie A Beautiful Mind. The film, loosely based on the biography of the same name, focuses on Nash’s mathematical genius and also his schizophrenia.  Click here to read more.

Top 10_3 Bauby

4.  Jean Dominique Bauby – Disability: Locked-in Syndrome

Jean-Dominique Bauby was a well-known French journalist, author and editor of the French fashion magazine ELLE.  At the age of 43, Bauby suffered a massive stroke. When he woke up twenty days later, he found he was entirely speechless; he could only blink his left eyelid. Called locked-in syndrome, this is a condition wherein the mental faculties remain intact but most of the body is paralyzed.  Despite his condition, he wrote the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking when the correct letter was reached by a person slowly reciting the alphabet over and over again using a system called partner-assisted scanning. Bauby composed and edited the book entirely in his head, and dictated it one letter at a time. Click here to read more.

Top 10_2 Hawking

3.  Stephen Hawking – Disability: Motor Neuron disease (a variant of ALS)

Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.  Hawking has a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device. Click here to read more.

Top 10_1 Helen Keller

2.  Helen Keller – Disability: Blind and Deaf

Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.  A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and other radical left causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.  Click here to read more.

Ed Roberts

1. Ed Roberts – Disability: Paralysis

Edward Verne Roberts (January 23, 1939 – March 14, 1995) was an American activist. He was the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. He was a pioneering leader of the disability rights movement.  Established the first Center for Independent Living in Berkley, California in 1972.  Click here to read more.

And, click here to read more about the History of the Centers for Independent Living.