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10 Famous Blind People Who Changed the World

by Madeline Goldstein

Blindness is the complete lack of form and light perception.  Most people believe that we see with our eyes.  The fact is, however, that it is our brain that “perceives” what we think we see.  These famous blind people have changed and shaped the world in many areas such as music, politics, science, art and sport because they refused to allow their lack of external light perception to quench or stifle their inner light. The world has been illuminated by their courage and talent.
Helen Keller - (June 27, 1880-June 1, 1968) Helen Keller was an American author, activist and lecturer who was the first deaf/blind person to graduate from college. She was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and numerous other causes.

Stevie Wonder – (Born May 13, 1950)  Stevie Wonder is an American singer-songwriter-record producer and multi-instrumentalist. A list of famous blind people wouldn't be complete without this composer's name. Wonder penned such hits as "Ebony and Ivory" that aided the civil rights cause in a non-violent way.

Ray Charles - (September 23, 1930-June 10, 2004) Ray Charles was an American pianist and musician whose gritty and soulful voice shaped the sound of rhythm and blues.

Claude Monet - (November 14, 1840-December 5, 1926) Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting. By 1907, he had become quite famous, but began having serious problems with his eyesight and started to go blind.  Even though his eyes continued to get worse, he never stopped painting.  At the end of his life, when he was almost completely blind, he painted one of his most famous murals of water lilies.
Andrea Bocelli - (Born 22 September 1958) Andrea Bocelli became blind at the age of 12 years old following a football accident. He was a multi-instrumentalist and has sung with other great operatic singers such as Pavarotti.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - (January 30, 1882 -April 12, 1945) Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States of America. Roosevelt had several disabilities including vision impairment.  He was one of the most popular presidents in history.

Thomas Gore - (December 10, 1870-March 16, 1949) Thomas Gore was a Democratic politician. He became blind as a child, but never gave up his dream of becoming a senator. In 1907, he was one of the first two senators from the new state of Oklahoma. He was re-elected twice more. He was famous as a member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Harriet Tubman - (1820/21-March 1913) Harriet Tubman was a slave throughout her youth who escaped to Canada but returned to the U.S. where she helped bring hundreds of black slaves to safety in what was called the Underground Railroad.  She received a cruel head wound which led to severe vision impairment and seizures.  This did not stop her from fighting for the freedom of her people.
Louis Braille - (January 4, 1809-January 6, 1852) Louis Braille accidentally stabbed himself in the eye, becoming blind from this injury.  He was the inventor and designer of Braille writing which enables blind people to read from a series of organized bumps.

Marla Runyan - (Born January 4, 1969) Marla Runyan is a marathon runner who is legally blind. She is the three-time national champion in the women's 5.000 meter run. Runyan was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics Games.  She placed eighth in the 1,500-meter in the 2000 Sydney Olympics making it the highest finish by an American woman in that event. In 2002 she finished as the top American at the 2002 New York City Marathon to post the second-fastest debut time ever by an American woman.