Millions of people across the world are born, or diagnosed, with a disability each year. The United Nations estimates that around 10% of the Earths population is living with some form of disability. That’s 650 million people!!

For those recently diagnosed with a disability or life changing illness, it can often be an emotional period, clouded by uncertainty and worry. However, having a disability doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your life or your achievements.

 Fish Insurance are disability insurance specialists, and we are dedicated to providing service to those with disabilities to help them achieve their goals. 

To remind us of some of the opportunities still available to those with disabilities compiled a list of just a few people who have overcome their disabilities to achieve incredible things in life.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was one of the most influential inventors of all time and his devices have changed the modern world dramatically.

Edison was profoundly hard of hearing, and would often describe himself as deaf. He famously said, “I have not heard a bird sing since I was twelve years old” and was always able to look on the bright side of his disability. For example, he often said that his hearing difficulties meant that he could concentrate on his work better than those with regular hearing.

There must have been some truth to Edison’s belief as he went on to change the world. Without Thomas Edison there would be no recorded music, motion pictures and most famously – the worlds first affordable light bulb.

Halle Berry

Now, you may be thinking that Halle Berry isn’t all that great. You might remember her from terrible films like Catwoman and The Flintstones. But many people forget that she was the first black actress to win an Oscar, which she achieved for her performance in the multi Oscar winning film “Monsters Ball”.

This is an achievement that’s even more astounding considering that she’s profoundly deaf in one ear. As well as affecting her hearing, this also affected her co-ordination and balance, which made acting a real challenge for her.

Still, she didn’t let this defeat her and her Oscar win is seen as a monumental achievement for both ethnic minorities and those with hearing difficulties.

Stephen Hawking

It’s probably fair to say that Stephen Hawking is the most famous scientist in the world (to be specific, he’s a physicist), and he has been for over three decades.

Hawking’s was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the young age of 21, whilst at university.  The disease left Stephen confined to a wheelchair, with only the ability to communicate via a speech machine controlled by his cheek.

Still, that didn’t stop him from contributing to some of the most revolutionary scientific discoveries of all time, including the theory of general relativity, the discovery that black holes emit “Hawking’s radiation” and he also played a key role in the “boundless universe” theory (the idea that the universe is endless).

Hawking’s discoveries will shape physics and space travel for generations to come and he did all of this despite having no control of any of his limbs.


Ludwig van Beethoven, more popularly known as “Beethoven”, is one of the most popular and influential composers of all time. His music crossed the boundaries between classical music and the romantic era that followed later.

What many people don’t realize is that Beethoven suffered from extreme hearing difficulty, which slowly deteriorated over time. In fact, his eighth symphony was composed when he could barely distinguish tones and his ninth was composed whilst he was completely deaf.

A famous tale tells how Beethoven performed his ninth symphony in front of a sell out crowd. At the end of his performance Beethoven had to be turned around to face the audience and see their rapturous applause… he was unaware that they were cheering for him because he couldn’t hear them.

Beethoven has gone on to inspire countless generations of musicians, including hitmaker “Robin Thicke” who sampled Beethoven in his breakout single “When I get you alone”.

Beethoven’s determination to compose throughout the loss of his hearing is a testament to how determination will allow you to achieve your goals regardless of your disability and the same can be said for all of the individuals mentioned throughout this article.

Whilst many people may believe that a disability can be a set back in life – the truth is – people with disabilities can become the most influential people in the world.

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