Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.5 billion people worldwide have hearing loss.
Hearing loss or hearing impairment occurs when a person cannot hear sounds within the normal range of 0 – 20 decibels (dB). This condition is called “hearing loss” when the loss is greater than 35 dB and can be classified as hearing loss or profound deafness.
Throughout history, many people with hearing loss or profound deafness have overcome life's obstacles, including hearing disabilities, to achieve remarkable success. Their achievements are an inspiration to many others!
From athletes to scientists to celebrities, here is a list of famous people with hearing loss or profound deafness to remind you that anything is possible with hard work, enthusiasm and determination. heart!
The difference between hearing loss and profound deafness
The following celebrities have varying degrees of hearing loss. There are 5 main levels:
Mild (26 – 40 dB HL)
Average (41 – 55 dB HL)
Moderate heavy (56 – 70 dB HL)
Severe (71 – 90 dB HL)
Deep (91 dB HL)
Some people have hearing loss (mild to severe) while some have complete hearing loss (profound hearing loss). It is important to note that there is a difference between the two.
Hearing loss: A person whose ability to hear sounds is reduced compared to a person with a normal hearing threshold of 20 dB or more in both ears is said to have hearing loss.
Hearing aids can improve the quality of life for people with mild to severe hearing loss by amplifying ambient sound waves to help hear louder and clearer.
Deaf: People with severe hearing loss are considered deaf, meaning they have little or no ability to hear sounds. Usually, the benefits that hearing aids bring to such people are very limited.
10 famous people with hearing loss or profound deafness:
1. Yao Ming
Did you know this famous Chinese basketball player is deaf in his left ear? Yao Ming revealed in an interview that he lost his hearing when he was about 8 years old.
Despite his impaired hearing, he still had a brilliant career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and represented the Houston Rockets. He earned eight All-Star selections and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
He is an inspiration to many people to never give up on their goals no matter the obstacles.
2. Laurentia Tan
Degree of hearing loss: Deep deafness
Laurentia Tan is a Paralympic equestrian from Singapore who has achieved international success despite her disability.
Born with cerebral palsy and profound deafness, she rode horses from a young age as a form of physical therapy. This helped her gain confidence and improve her self-esteem.
She continued to represent Singapore in international competitions, including the Paralympic Games, where she won several medals.
3. Millie Bobby Brown
Degree of hearing loss: Profound hearing loss (one ear)
Best known for her incredible role as Eleven in the Netflix series Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown was born with partial hearing loss and eventually became deaf in one ear.
At the age of 8, she determined to become an actress. Her family even moved to Los Angeles to support her ambitions.
Even though she can't fully hear herself while performing, Brown has never let that dampen her confidence in acting and singing. She believes that as long as you like doing something, you should do it. Nothing can stop you, not even your hearing challenges!
4. Halle Berry
Halle Berry, who made history as the first black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, lost nearly 80% of her hearing in her left ear after a domestic violence incident .
However, that did not stop her from pursuing her passion for acting. She is famous for her roles in Catwoman, Monster Ball and the X-Men film series.
5. Ayumi Hamasaki
Degree of hearing loss: Profound hearing loss (left ear)
Ayumi Hamasaki, famous J-pop star and best-selling Japanese solo artist of all time, is deaf in her left ear. And the hearing in her right ear is getting worse.
In 2001, Hamasaki caught a cold that led to an ear infection. Despite her doctor's warnings to avoid exposure to loud noise, she continued to tour. She had tinnitus during a practice session but did not stop to rest.
It wasn't until 2007 that she began to worry about her hearing, but it was too late. A year later, her left ear was completely deaf. However, that didn't stop her singing career - her love for the stage motivated her to keep moving forward and creating music.
In 2017, she went for a hearing test and was informed that the hearing in her right ear was getting worse. She also often suffered from dizziness and vomiting because the semicircular canal (the tube located in the inner ear that helps maintain balance) was damaged.
Despite the challenges she faces, Hamasaki shows no signs of slowing down – she continues to hold concerts and produce new music.
6. Stephen Colbert
You may be curious to know why Stephen Colbert's right ear sticks out at a strange angle.
As a child, American actor and comedian Stephen Colbert had a tumor in his right ear. To safely remove it, doctors also had to remove his eardrum. His childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist was shattered because his health condition prevented him from participating in scuba diving.
During his college years, he developed an interest in acting and studied to become a theater actor and was a student of Steve Carell. Colbert was involved in many television projects before succeeding David Letterman as host of The Late Show.
His other notable works include The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.
In 2020, he was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV), a condition that causes dizziness when the head moves in certain directions. That did not stop him from going to work and he continued to be active at work.
7. Ludwig van Beethoven
Degree of hearing loss: Deep deafness
Known as one of the greatest composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven began to lose his hearing in his twenties. His hearing continued to decline over the years and he gradually found himself having difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds.
When he was 44 years old, he became completely deaf. In fact, he had to take notes to chat with others. Despite being deaf, Beethoven continued to compose music and created some of his greatest works, notably the Ninth Symphony.
8. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton is a famous president of America. His hearing difficulties are believed to have been caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises - hunting, playing the saxophone and attending election rallies contributed to his noise-induced hearing loss.
At the age of 51, former President Clinton wore a hearing aid located entirely in the ear canal (CIC). He took the opportunity to encourage citizens of a similar age to prioritize their hearing health. He also volunteered with his daughter to provide hearing aids to people in Africa.
9. Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison is considered by many to be one of the most famous and important inventors in history.
Although he lost hearing in one ear and deafness in the other at age 12, he didn't let hearing loss stop him. Rather, he considered it a blessing because he could focus on his research and inventions without distractions.
During his lifetime, he held more than 1,000 patents and invented the incandescent light bulb, the camera, the Alkaline battery, and many other inventions.
10. Helen Keller
Helen Keller became deaf and blind due to an illness when she was just 19 months old. Although she lost both her sight and hearing at a very young age, she overcame countless obstacles to become a prominent figure in American history.
Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Harvard University.
She dedicates herself to improving the lives of others. She is the author of many books and essays sharing her life experiences and spends much of her time campaigning for social causes such as women's suffrage and disability rights. In recognition of her extraordinary achievements, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Her work continues to inspire generations, serving as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.