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Let us introduce you to 10 famous blind people who have shaped history.

Some individuals are blind from birth, while others lose their sight to accident or illness. Either way, each of the following incredible people teaches us that anything is possible!

Ray Charles

Ray Charles, famous blind man

Many people consider Ray Charles one of the foremost musical talents of the 20th century. Despite facing vision loss at the age of seven from glaucoma, Ray Charles’s passion for music was undiminished.

He honed his skills on various instruments including the piano, organ, and saxophone. His talent revolutionized the music industry.

Charles combined jazz, country blues, and gospel to create soul music. His mix of styles laid the groundwork for the genre, which earned him the title, “The Genius of Soul.”

Beyond his musical achievements, Charles was a trailblazer for civil rights. He refused to perform in segregated venues, risking his career to stand up for what he believed in. He inspires generations, making a lasting contribution to the fight for racial equality in America.

Craig MacFarlane

Craig MacFarlane, famous paralympic champion

Born in 1957, athlete Craig MacFarlane lost his sight at the age of two to cancer. Growing up, MacFarlane excelled in track and field events. He became a Paralympic champion, winning medals in events such as the shot put, discus, and long jump. 

MacFarlane’s athletic achievements shattered stereotypes and inspired countless individuals with disabilities to pursue their dreams without fear.

Beyond sports, MacFarlane is a dedicated advocate for disability rights. MacFarlane, travels the world, sharing his story, and inspiring others to defy societal expectations and embrace their potential. 

Helen Keller

Helen Keller, famous blind person

Helen Keller is a testament to what the human spirit is truly capable of in the face of adversity. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880, Helen Keller was blind and deaf by the age of 19 months. Despite her sensory impairments, Helen Keller’s thirst for knowledge propelled her to extraordinary heights. 

With the help of Anne Sullivan, her dedicated teacher, Keller learned how to communicate through sign language and braille. Helen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College, becoming the first deaf-blind person to do so.

Keller’s advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities continues to inspire generations to break down barriers.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille

Born in 1809 in Coupvray, Braille lost his sight at the age of three in an accident. Inspired by a military code of raised dots and dashes, Braille developed a tactile reading and writing system. It revolutionized literacy for the blind and is now what we know as Braille.

Braille consists of raised dots representing letters and numbers. It enabled blind individuals to read and write without help for the first time. Thus, empowering millions of visually impaired people around the world.

Marla Runyan

Marla Runyan, famous blind athlete

Marla Runyan’s journey to athletic excellence from visual impairment is nothing short of outstanding. Born in 1969, Runyan was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition, at the age of nine. Despite the diagnosis, Runyan refused to let the disability hold her back.

Runyan became the first legally blind athlete to compete at the 2010 Sydney Olympics. She ran for the United States in the 1500-meter race. Marla proves that with hard work and dedication, anything is truly possible.

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur, famous musician

Born in 1953 in Tacoma, Washington, Diane Schuur was completely blind from birth. She faced numerous challenges during her early life, including the tragic death of her mother. Despite these challenges, her passion for music endured. She worked on honing her vocal and piano skills and later won multiple Grammy Awards. 

Her remarkable journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance. To this day, Diane is a passionate advocate for accessibility in the arts, promoting empowerment for anybody born blind.

James Thurber

James Thurber, blind cartoonist

Making a massive mark on American literature is no small feat, but James Thurber managed to accomplish it.

Born in 1894 in Columbus, Ohio, Thurber lost vision in one eye after a childhood accident. He later started his career as a journalist and cartoonist. Thurber is responsible for masterworks such as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “My Life and Hard Times.” He entertains and inspires readers of all ages. 

Thurber’s writing shows that we can keep our imagination and sense of humor no matter what happens to us.

Esref Armagan

Esref Armagan, famous artist

Esref Armagan’s story as an artist is incredibly inspiring. Born in 1953, Armagan has been blind since birth. Despite being a blind man, Armagan discovered a remarkable gift for painting. Using his sense of touch and spatial awareness, he developed a unique technique to create art.

Armagan’s paintings exhibit intricate details and vibrant colors. His ability to convey visual concepts is an outstanding reminder of the limitless potential of the creative spirit.

Geerat Vermeij

Geerat Vermeij, blind paleontologist

Born in 1946 in the Netherlands, Geerat Vermeij is a renowned paleontologist. He is famous for making groundbreaking contributions to biology. His endless curiosity about the natural world pushed him to pursue these academic studies.

Vermeij’s research primarily focuses on mollusks like clams and snails. He studies these to understand the processes of evolution.

His work has shown how organisms like these thrive in many different environments. His research earned him many prestigious awards such as the Paleontological Society Medal and the MacArthur Fellowship. 

Beyond his scientific practices, Vermeij is also an educator.

Jacob Bolotin 

Jacob Bolotin, blind physician

Jacob Bolotin, born in 1888 in Chicago, was a pioneering physician. 

Determined to defy expectations in society, he pursued a career in medicine. His groundbreaking achievements as a physician transformed the landscape of medical care for the blind and the visually impaired. He pioneered innovative techniques to improve the lives of his patients.

Jacob was a passionate advocate for equal rights for the blind community. He pushed for greater opportunities in healthcare as well as education and employment. 

Bolotin’s efforts lit the spark for meaningful social change. His legacy in both medicine and disability rights activism continues to inspire generations of individuals to overcome any form of obstacle.

More Famous Blind People

blind child reading braille

We can all make a difference in the world, just like these famous blind people have shown. Our limitations should not hold us back from making an impact for good.

More interesting blind people to learn about:

John Milton: poet and long time civil servant

Jorge Luis Borges: writer

Sir Robin Millar: record producer

For more interesting information check out the following:

Human Eye lesson plan

National Federation of the Blind

Perkins Brailler & Jot-A-Dot: braille writers