The extraordinary challenges of geniuses—Beethoven’s deafness, Einstein’s dyslexia—are well-known and frequent points of discussion. We’ve noticed, though, that contemporary celebrities are coming out of the woodwork about their own differences, including hearing loss, and we are here for it!
Here are six prominent public figures who are helping to open discussion about and remove the stigma from the common challenges of hearing loss:
1) Whoopi Goldberg wears two hearing aids and has openly discussed her hearing loss in the media. She attributes her hearing loss to listening to loud music with headphones, which experts agree is an increasing problem. Many advise not exceeding a device’s 60% maximum volume when listening with headphones or earbuds.
2) Bill Clinton has managed his gradual hearing loss with few visible signs. He wears small hearing aids in both ears, but seems to have little difficulty managing his relentless public speaking engagements. He has said, however, that it sometimes can be difficult for him to participate in conversations in loud or crowded rooms (a problem we are familiar with!).
3) Stephen Colbert is deaf in one ear due to damage sustained during a childhood surgery. He also struggles with vertigo, an intermittently debilitating inner-ear condition that can make it hard to perform even simple daily tasks when it strikes. His sense of humor, thankfully, has not been affected!
4) Robert Redford has won numerous awards in his long career as an actor and director, and has received just as much attention for his good looks. These days he’s sporting hearing aids in both ears, thanks to an on-set accident, although a degree of hearing loss is certainly common at his age.
6) Pete Townsend has not let his hearing loss, stemming from nearly 60 years of playing rock concerts as lead guitarist of The Who, stop him from playing and recording music. Not only is he still playing and touring, but he is also a co-founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), which aims to help prevent and support occupational hearing loss in musicians.
More and more often celebrities are sharing and
discussing their hearing loss on social media, in addition to traditional media, which goes a long way toward making hearing loss not only more visible, but less shameful to those experiencing it.