In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a look at some incredible women in history who, despite having impaired hearing or complete deafness, went on to lead incredible lives and do incredible things. Let them be an inspiration to us all, hearing and hard-of-hearing alike!!

Helen Keller circa 1920

Helen Keller circa 1920

Helen Keller was an American author, activist and lecturer. Helen was not born blind and deaf. At nineteen months old, she became ill and it left her deaf and blind. She became well known through several movies  produced about her life. Titled The Miracle Worker, the story told how Helen’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, was able to break through to Helen despite her being almost completely isolated due to lack of coherent communication. With Anne’s help, Helen blossomed. She was the first deaf/blind person to earn a BA degree. 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. Helen died at 87 years old.

Gertrude Ederly circa 1926

Gertrude Ederly circa 1926

Gertrude Ederle was an American competitive swimmer. In 1924 at the Summer Olympic games in Paris, France 18 year old Gertrude won a gold medal as a member of the first-place U.S. team in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. She also brought home two bronze medals for individual competitions. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel, beating the current record time (set by a man) by two hours. Ederle suffered with poor hearing since childhood due to a bout of the measles and by the 1940s she was completely deaf. She spent the rest of her life teaching swimming to deaf children. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

Juliette Gordon Low in 1887

Juliette Gordon Low in 1887

Juliette Gordon Low was born in Savannah Georgia in 1860 as Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon. Juliette founded the Girl Scouts of America in 1912 after becoming involved in the Girl Guides in Europe. Although childless, Juliette wanted to help girls learn practical skills and build character. It was years earlier that Juliette suffered an injury that caused her to lose almost all her hearing. A grain of rice thrown at her wedding became lodged in her ear. When it was removed her ear drum was punctured and became infected causing her to become completely deaf in that ear. Her hearing was severely limited for the rest of her life and she used a variety of hearing aids. She died in 1927 at the age of 66.

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