Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Famous People with Vision Impairments

There are many successful people in the world, past and present, that serve as role models and demonstrate just how far one can go with a little bit of perserverence. The website disabledworld.com gives a list of famous, successful people with vision impairments. The list shows examples of how people can succeed despite having a disability. Here are a few of the article's highlights:

Helen Keller was an American author, activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf/blind person to graduate from college. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes.

Stevie Wonder is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. Blind from infancy, Wonder signed with Motown Records as a pre-adolescent at age twelve, and continues to perform and record for the label to this day. It is thought that he received excessive oxygen in his incubator which led to retinopathy of prematurity, a destructive ocular disorder affecting the retina, characterized by abnormal growth of blood vessels, scarring, and sometimes retinal detachment.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States of America and played a big role during World War II. Roosevelt eventually aided the poor and un-employed of America and restored order at various times during his Presidency. He was also the only President to ever get elected 4 years in a row mostly because of his help for the recovery of the economy. It has been said that Roosevelt had several disabilities including vision impairment.

Harriet Tubman was a slave throughout her youth, being treated as an animal until she eventually escaped captivity. When she had reached Canada she did not stay to enjoy her freedom. She returned to the lands and brought hundreds of black slaves back to safety, saving them from slavery by escaping from what they then called The Underground Railroad. After a severe wound to the head, which was inflicted by a slave owner before her escape, she became victim to vision impairment and seizures. Nonetheless, she tossed her fears aside and kept fighting for the freedom of her people.

Louis Braille became blind after he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his father's awl. He later became an inventor and designed braille writing, which enables blind people to read through feeling a series of organized bumps representing letters. This concept was beneficial to all blind people from around the world and is commonly used even today. If it were not for Louis Braille's blindness he may not have invented this method of reading and no other blind person could have enjoyed a story or been able to comprehend important paperwork.

Alec Templeton was a satirist and pianist who had moved from Wales to the United States where he played with several orchestras, eventually making it to his first radio performances on the Rudy Vallee Show, The Chase and Sanbourn Hour,The Magic Key and Kraft Music Hall. The way he would memorize his scripts before the show was by asking someone to read them 20 times in a row while he would listen. He was blind from birth but it did not stop him to doing what he wanted to do in the end.

Galileo Galilei was a Tuscan (Italian) astronomer, mathematician, physicist, and philosopher being greatly responsible for the scientific revolution. Some of his accomplishments include improvements to the telescope, accelerated motion and astronomical observations. Galileo was the first to discover the four largest satellites of Jupiter which were named the Galilean moons in his honor. Galileo had also improved compass design and eventually opposed the geocentric view. His sight started to deteriorate at the age of 68 years old and eventually led to complete blindness.

Andrea Bocelli had become blind at the age of 12 years old following a football accident in which he was hit in the head. At 6 years old Bocelli was taking piano lessons before also learning the saxophone and the flute. His family would always ask him to sing, Bocelli once said "I don't think a singer decides to sing, it is the others who choose that you sing by their reactions". Bocelli has also sung with other great singers such as Pavarotti.

John Milton was a civil servant, English poet and prose polemicist. Milton was well known through his epic poem Paradise Lost and also for his radical views on republican religion. He never was well adjusted in school and once got expelled for having a fist fight with his tutor. Eventually he began to write poetry in English, Latin and Italian. John Milton became blind at the age of 43 in 1651, and has written books containing quotes about the experience.

James Thurber was a comedian and cartoonist most known for his contributions to New Yorker Magazine. While playing with his brothers William and Robert, William shot him in the eye with and arrow while playing a game of William Tell making him almost completely blind after the loss of an eye. At school James could not play sports with his friends due to this accident so he decided to work on his creative mind, putting his skills in writing.

Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise. His popularity and fame grew. By 1907 he had painted many well-known paintings, but by then he had his first problem with his eyesight. He started to go blind. He still painted, though his eyes got worse. He wouldn't stop painting until he was nearly blind. In the last decade of his life Monet, nearly blind, painted a group of large water lily murals (Nympheas) for the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris.

Ray Charles was an American pianist and musician who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music, pop standards, and a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem. In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin, a drug to which he had been addicted for nearly 20 years. It was his third arrest for the offence, but he avoided jail time after kicking the habit in a clinic in Los Angeles. He spent a year on parole in 1966.

For the exhaustive list, visit:
http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/famous-blind.shtml

For information on computer training assistance for vision impairments, visit:
http://empowertech.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82&Itemid=104

1 comment:

  1. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
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    Keep Posting:)

    ReplyDelete