Red Disability logoFamous scientists and inventors with disabilities

Many people see people with disabilities as being on the receiving end of technological developments, eg medical cures and treatments, or inventions such as electronic wheelchairs or MiniComs for deaf people.
Far fewer people are aware that a number of scientists with disabilities have themselves contributed greatly to our understanding of science, and been responsible for inventions which have enriched the lives of millions of people, whether with or without disabilities.
A few of them are mentioned here ...

Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell

disability: learning disability (source)

    invented the telephone

Ironically, he is not popular with some deaf people following his alleged remarks that deaf people should be sterilized, as a form of eugenics. We say alleged, there is some controversy as to whether he made these comments.
    Red Disability  denounces all forms of eugenics, and all discrimination against people with disabilities - even from a person who has disabilities.
    But, whatever Bell may or may not have said, the fact that Bell invented the telephone proves that people with learning disabilities can still contribute enormously to society.

Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Edison

Disabilities:    Slightly deaf (source)
                     Learning disability (did not learn to read until aged 12) (source)
                     Diabetic (source)

Probably most famous for inventing the electric light, Edison also invented the record player and the cinematic camera.
Significantly, due to his learning disability, his writing skills remained "poor" throughout his life.

This web page describes how he discovered the record player almost by accident, while working on telephone technology.
The first record player, or "phonograph", recorded on cylinders. (Just as well someone developed disc records, or we may be using cylindrical CDs and CD-ROMs now !). His work paved the way for the records and CDs we listen to today. So the small minority of fascist rock bands who slag off people with disabilities, should bear in mind that they wouldn't be recording their "music" if it wasn't for an inventor with disabilities !

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein


  • Aspergers Syndrome, a type of autism (source)
  • widely stated that he was dyslexic (although there is some controversy about this - see Article 19)

A brilliant atomic physicist, probably most famous for his Theory of Relativity.


Henry Ford

Henry Ford
    disability:    dyslexic (source)
    inventor of the motor car

Dr Temple Grandin

Dr Temple Grandin

disability: autism (source)

Agricultural scientist, professor of animal behaviour

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

Disability:    Motor neurone disease. (source)
                  Uses a motorized wheelchair, and a computerized speech-synthesizer.

Probably one of the greatest astronomical physicists of modern times, Stephen Hawking has developed several theories about the nature and origins of our universe.
One of them, as outlined in his book "Black Holes and Baby Universes", suggests that each black hole contains another universe of similar size to our own. And that our universe is formed from a black hole in another universe. Very important, and interesting, in that it is the first theory which does not require a belief that the universe must have been created by some sort of god.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton
     disability:    stutter (source), epilepsy (source)
     discovered gravity


Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci
    disability:    dyslexic (source)
    artist and inventor, famous for his design of the bicycle.

In addition, most modern technological developments take place in large laboratories with a number of scientists working there - a number of whom will, almost certainly, have disabilities.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of people who work in the electronic and computing industries who believe that people with disabilities are out of place in science and technology. We hope this web-page proves them wrong ! 

Computer Programmers and Software Developers with disabilities

Without mathematics, scientific discovery and (especially) software programming, would be a lot harder. So check out the Famous mathematicians with disabilities

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