Top 5 historical figures with hearing loss

Ever wondered which historical figures had hearing loss?
Jun, 24, 2019

We've compiled a list of 5 famous, historical figures with hearing loss, to give you the edge at your next local trivia night:


Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and one of the best known in history. His hearing loss started at age 28 and it's believed he also had tinnitus. The cause of his hearing loss is unknown, but is widely believed to have been caused by lead poisoning. After Beethoven started to lose his hearing, he still continued on in his career as an accomplished composer, even after his hearing was completely gone. Famously, he removed the legs of his piano so he could ‘hear’ the music through vibrations through the floor when composing his works.

Did you know?
Beethoven removed the legs of his piano so he could hear the music through vibrations through the floor

Hellen Keller

Born in 1880, Hellen Keller was born with the ability to hear and see but at the age of just 19 months, contracted a devastating illness which resulted in the loss of her hearing and sight. Despite this severe impediment to her health, Keller went on to be the first blind-deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller developed her ability to speak and communicate with others through reading people’s lips with her hands and eventually developed the ability to ‘hear’ through vibrations in tabletops of music played nearby. After gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree, Keller went on to become an avid lecturer and public speaker, an accomplished author and activist.

Did you know?
Hellen Keller went on to be the first blind-deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton served as the 42nd President of the United States between 1993 and 2001. In 1997, he announced that he had hearing loss and was getting hearing aids. After losing some of his hearing, Clinton went on to have another four years in office as President of the United States.

Sir William McMahon

Sir William McMahon was the 20th Prime Minister of Australia. In office from 1971 to 1972, Sir William had a long political career of 33 years before resigning in 1982. Superseded by Gough Whitlam, Sir William McMahon was the longest continuously serving government minister in Australia. Sir William was awarded his GCMG in 1977 among many other accomplishments in his lifetime, none of which were affected by the hearing loss he suffered for most of his life.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was famous for his invention of the light bulb. Edison suffered hearing loss at an early age which was attributed to continuous middle ear infections and a case of scarlet fever when he was young. In addition to the invention of the light bulb, Edison also invented the carbon microphone, the fluoroscope, one of the first X-ray machines, the Kinetograph and a motion picture camera.

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National Hearing Care blog is our place to explore ideas and themes of interest. For professional audiology advice, please contact your local clinic for a consultation.

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