Lifestyle

Famous Women with Hearing Loss

These women have used their personal experiences with hearing loss to inspire and empower individuals who can relate to their stories. 

Hearing loss is incredibly common and occurs regardless of age, gender, or celebrity status. For some of the women below, the pressure of fame could have led them to live with their hearing impairment in private, avoiding the stigmas and possible judgment of living with hearing loss or wearing hearing aids.

Yet, rather than avoid the subject, they have chosen to speak freely about their experiences with hearing loss and their attempts to persevere through it. However, some celebrities with hearing loss have become outspoken supporters of hearing loss-related causes. Here are a few extraordinary females that have experienced some degree of hearing loss.

Jodie Foster

We start our star-studded tour with Jodie Foster. Though recognized for being one of the most private celebrities in Hollywood and not commonly open about her private life, she has mentioned her hearing loss in a few interviews.

For example, Chicago Tribune reported that she’s not very good about taking care of her own health needs, especially her hearing loss condition or “this hearing-loss thing” as she calls it. She has experienced fits of vertigo as well, as our hearing is tethered to our balance. Foster wears an ITE (or In-the-Ear) hearing aid that is custom-molded to the inner ear.

Holly Hunter

holly hunter

Another great actress who has learned to overcome her hearing loss from the young age of nine is Holly Hunter. You may recognize her from her award-winning role in the 1993 film The Piano, as the voice of Elastigirl in Disney's The Incredibles, and most recently as senator Finsh in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Her unilateral hearing loss, or single-sided deafness, was caused by the Mumps virus when she was a child. Although she kept her condition a secret for many years, you can see that on much of her early work she is commonly using her right ear to listen.

Jane Lynch

Best known for her role Sue Sylvester in the acapella-themed TV show Glee, Jane Lynch has lived with a deafness in one ear due to severe nerve damage since she was younger. She mentions in her autobiography "Happy Accidents" that she found out she wasn't able to hear anything at all through one of her ears at age seven.

Lynch is also an activist, advocating for multiple causes including PETA, LGBTQ rights, and the "Ban Bossy" initiative encouraging leadership roles for young women. She has been more vocal about her condition in recent years.

Whoopi Goldberg

whoopi goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg has been in the spotlight for many years, becoming famous from her roles in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, Sister Act and Ghost for which she won an academy award in 1990.

Most recently she has been working as a co-host of the television program The View where she recently revealed that she is a habitual hearing aids wearer to compensate for varying hearing loss in both ears, which she attributes listening to loud music during her youth.

Helen Keller

helen keller

One of the most recognizable ambassadors for hearing loss in the 20th century, Helen Keller served as an early pioneer for people with disabilities. Keller became hearing and visually impaired after a childhood illness.

In spite of these barriers, she learned to communicate by spelling words into others’ hands. Later, Keller learned to speak and to read lips with her hands. She went on to graduate from college and become an activist for the deaf and visually impaired. She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and spent her life advocating for people with disabilities.

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