25 Inspiring People Who Overcame Their Disabilities

Posted by , Updated on May 21, 2024

Some people may see disabilities as a limitation. However, there are others who see these disabilities, not as a limitation, but an opportunity. A chance to strive for more and accomplish what many only dream of. These brave men and women faced what most would consider an unbearable sentence and triumphed over mediocrity. From quadriplegics on surfboards to deaf composers, these are 25 Inspiring People Who Overcame Their Disabilities!



Helen Keller

Helen KellerSource: wikipedia

She was the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree!


Stevie Wonder

Stevie WonderSource: wikipedia

One of the most famous singers and musicians of our time, Stevie was born blind.


Lenin Moreno

Lenin MorenoSoure: wikipedia

The Vice President of Ecuador from 2007 to 2013 Lenin became a paraplegic after being injured in a shooting.


Marlee Matlin

Marlee MatlinSource: wikipedia

Famous for her role in Children of a Lesser God, Marlee is one of the most successful deaf actresses of our time.


Ralph Braun

Ralph BraunSource: wikipedia

Born with muscular dystrophy, Ralph is the late founder of the Braun Corporation, a lead manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles. The company would eventually create the first wheelchair accessible minivan.


Frida Kahlo

Frida KahloSource: wikipedia

One of the best known Mexican artists of the 2oth century, Frida was injured in a trolley accident as a teenager and her back never fully healed. She also contracted polio as a child and had a deformed leg. She became famous for her self portraits in a wheelchair.


Sudha Chandran

Sudha ChandranSource: wikipedia

A well-known Bollywood dancer and actress, Sudha lost one of her legs to an infection following a car accident in 1981.


John Hockenberry

John HockenberrySource: wikipedia

Working for Dateline in the 90s, John was one of the first journalists to use a wheelchair on an American television network. His spinal cord injury was the result of a car crash when he was 19.


Stephen Hawking

Stephen HawkingSource: wikipedia

In spite of being diagnosed with ALS when he was 21, Stephen is one of the world’s leading physicists.


Bethany Hamilton

Bethany HamiltonSource: wikipedia

The subject of the movie Soul Surfer, Bethany lost her arm to a shark attack in Hawaii when she was only 13. That didn’t stop her though, and she returned to her board 3 weeks later.


Marla Runyan

Marla RunyanSource: wikipedia

Marla is an American runner who was the first legally blind athlete to ever compete in the Olympics.


Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van BeethovenSource: wikipedia

Although he began to lose his hearing at the age of 26 (possibly the worst thing that could befall a composer), he continued to compose music, and the majority of his most beloved works were actually composed when he was already completely deaf.


Christopher Reeve

Christopher ReeveSource: wikipedia

Famous for his role as Superman, Christopher became a quadriplegic in 1995 after being thrown from a horse. He continued on with his career, however, and died in 2002 while co-directing Everyone’s Hero.


John Nash

John NashSource: wikipedia

Not all disabilities are physical. John Nash, the famous American mathematician whose life is the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.


Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van GoghSource: wikipedia

As we said, disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and Van Gogh is another example of this. Although there is still a debate about his precise diagnosis, he was admitted to several insane asylums and hospitals throughout the course of his life.


Christy Brown

Christy BrownSource: wikipedia

An Irish painter and writer, Christy had cerebral palsy and was able to type and write using only his foot.


Jean-Dominique Bauby

Jean-Dominique BaubySource: wikipedia

A well known French journalist, Jean-Dominique suffered a stroke in 1995 at the age of 43. After waking up 20 days later he could only blink his left eyelid. Doctors diagnosed him with locked-in syndrome, a disorder where your entire body is paralyzed but your mental capabilities remain intact. Although he died only 2 years later, during that time he dictated an entire book by blinking.


Albert Einstein

Albert EinsteinSource: wikipedia

Although his name is practically synonymous with intelligence, Einstein had a learning disability and didn’t even speak until he was 3 years old.


John Milton

John MiltonSource: wikipedia

The English author and poet became blind at the age of 43 but that didn’t stop him from going on to create his most famous work, Paradise Lost.


Lord Nelson

Lord NelsonSource: wikipedia

A British officer in the Royal Navy, Lord Nelson is known as one of the greatest commanders of his day. In spite of losing both his arm and his eye in combat he continued to win victories until his death during a battle in 1805.


Tanni Grey-Thompson

Tanni Grey-ThompsonSource: wikipedia

Born with spina bifida, Tanni is famous for being a prolific British wheelchair racer.


Francsico de Goya

Francsico de GoyaSource: wikipedia

The famous Spanish painter lost his hearing at 46 but went on to create some of the most well known art of the 19th century.


Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah BernhardtSource: wikipedia

The French actress had her leg amputated following a knee injury yet continued to star on stage until her death. Today she is remembered as one of France’s greatest actresses.


Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. RooseveltSource: wikipedia

President of the United States during World War II, Franklin had contracted polio earlier in life and therefore used a wheelchair in private. He was careful, however, to not be seen with it in public and was often supported on either side by his aides.


Nick Vujicic

Nick VujicicSource: wikipedia

Born without arms or legs, Nick grew up in Australia and in spite of his disability he eventually taught himself to do things like skateboard and even surf. Today he is a motivational speaker and winner of the Australian Young Citizen Award.