Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most influential composers from the Western world, despite suffering from hearing impairments at age 26. Image Credit: Shutterstock

An estimated 466 million people around the world have hearing loss, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). So, it’s no wonder many of the world’s most talented individuals and influencers, across history, were deaf or had hearing trouble.

Click start to play today’s Spell It and find the word “deaf”.

Here are accomplished individuals who proved that deafness couldn’t hold them back:

1. Beethoven

German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is perhaps one of the best-known composers in the world. When he was 26, Beethoven experienced a noise similar to buzzing in his ears. By the age of 31, he lost 60 per cent of his hearing, and became completely deaf at 46. However, the accomplished musician continued to compose music even when deaf – he even performed publicly in symphonies, as a conductor.

2. Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison Image Credit: Gulf News archives

The American inventor was responsible for many vital 20th century inventions that improved people’s lives, from the light bulb to the telegraph. Edison was completely deaf in one ear, and hard of hearing in the other. According to nonprofit Deaf Unity, Edison believed his deafness benefited his work, because it helped keep conversations short and gave him more time to focus on tasks.

3. Helen Keller

Helen Keller
Helen Keller Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

American educator Helen Keller was both blind and deaf, and became the first such person to earn a Bachelors of Arts degree. She became a globally recognised speaker and author, championing disability and women’s rights, and promoting social equality.

4. Marlee Matlin

Copy of 2021-10-01T014738Z_1665614181_RC2P0Q92FT5Q_RTRMADP_3_USA-ENTERTAINMENT-VARIETY-1633080192124
Marlee Matlin attends Variety's 2021 Power of Women event at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni Image Credit: REUTERS

The American actress and activist is the only deaf person to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actress. A successful author, she has also written three books – all with deaf protagonists – and throughout her career, has been an ardent advocate for deaf rights.

Which deaf celebrity do you know about? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at