Celebrities and Athletes with Hearing Loss

Celebrities and athletes discuss their hearing loss.. Getty Images

When one is diagnosed with hearing loss, it is easy to feel alone. In reality, one in eight people in the United States age 12 years and older have hearing loss. Naturally, there are quite a few famous people in that group. How many of these celebrities did you know had hearing loss?

Rob Lowe

Undiagnosed mumps as an infant is suspected to be the cause of Rob Lowe’s unilateral hearing loss. He is deaf in his right ear and does not wear a hearing aid.

Lowe is very candid about his difficulties in social settings, such as noisy restaurants, which result from his hearing loss. While he chooses not to wear a hearing aid, options such as a CROS hearing aid, bone anchored hearing aid, SoundBite system, or TransEar system are available to treat single sided deafness.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry is very open about discussing her hearing loss, which was a direct result of domestic violence. Head injuries can cause conductive hearing loss by perforating the tympanic membrane or causing disruption in the bones of the middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss may also result from damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is deaf in his right ear. He discussed this on David Letterman and The Colbert Report and states the deafness is due to a childhood ear surgery. Although there have been rumors that his hearing loss was due to a tumor, he has publicly stated this is not true.

William Shatner

Well known as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and now the face of Priceline, William Shatner is an advocate for tinnitus research and treatment. His hearing loss and tinnitus are attributed to noise exposure during an explosion sequences on the set of Star Trek. The same explosion also impacted his co-star, Leonard Nimoy, although to a lesser extent.

Shatner has utilized Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) to habituate to his tinnitus.

Jodi Foster

Jodi Foster has been spotted wearing a hearing aid, and has suffered from vertigo, but has not come out publicly about the cause of her hearing loss. One disorder that causes hearing loss and vertigo is Meniere’s disease.

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg blames noise exposure, listening to loud music, in particular, for her hearing loss. She wears hearing aids in both ears.

Olympic Athletes

Chris Colwell (USA, diving) has a congenital hearing loss in both ears. Outside the pool, he wears hearing aids. During the competition, he watches the scoreboard and monitors to let him know when it is time for his dive. Jeff Float (USA, swimming), Tony Ally (Great Britain, diving), David Smith (USA, volleyball), Tamkia Catchings (USA, basketball), and Marie Roethlisberger (USA, Gymnastics) are all Olympic athletes that compete successfully with hearing loss. Current hearing aids have higher levels of water, dust, and sweat resistance that are more compatible with sports.

Use of an assistive or signaling devices during practice may be important for safety, but the bottom line is that hearing loss should not be a deterrent to sports performance.

Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman is deaf in both ears. This doesn’t stop him on the football field, where he is a fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. He wears hearing aids in both ears, but relies on visual cues and speech reading on the field. The necessary attention to detail due to his hearing impairment is something he credits towards his success.


Quick Statistics (April 20, 2015). National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Accessed August 13, 2015 from https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing

Single-Sided Deafness: What are your options? (February 27, 2015). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed August 13, 2015 from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/transcripts/1489_single-sided-deafness-what-are-your-options

Hain, Timothy (April 10, 2012). Post-Traumatic Hearing Loss. Accessed August 13, 2015 from http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/post/posttrau%20hearing.html

Fabry, David (n.d.). Set Phaser to "Mask": Interview with William Shatner. How’s Your Hearing? Accessed August 13, 2015 from http://www.howsyourhearing.org/AudiologyToday/ATWilliamShatner.html

Gorov, Linda (4/4/02). Off-screen, Foster Doesn’t Panic. The Boston Globe. Accessed August 13, 2015 from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-04-04/features/0204040020_1_panic-room-jodie-foster-david-fincher.

Coleman, Derrick (06/12/2015). Listen. The Player’s Tribune. Accessed August 13, 2015 from http://www.theplayerstribune.com/derrick-coleman-deaf-seahawks-nfl/

Continue Reading