Helen Keller was born on June 27th, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her parents were Kate Adams Keller and Colonel Arthur Keller.
Two years after her birth she was stricken by an illness, perhaps rubella or scarlet fever, that left her blind and deaf.
Her parents asked for the help of a teacher from the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston and soon, her life changed forever. On March 3rd, 1887, Anne Mansfield Sullivan came to Tuscumbia to be her teacher.
Helen was very bright but also pretty unruly and spoiled child, who, under Anne’s extraordinary instructions, achieved tremendous progress in communicating.
Anne began teaching the six-year-old Helen finger spelling. One month after her arrival, Anne had taught Keller the word “water.” She did this by using her fingers to spell letters into Helen’s hand. This is how Helen understood that objects had names.
Three years later, she learned to use the hand signals of the deaf-mute, the Braille alphabet (an alphabet created by Louis Braille for the blind that relies on raised dots), and she became able to read and write. She also learned to lip-read by placing her fingers on the lips and throat of the speaker.
She began a slow process of learning to speak under Sarah Fuller of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston and later in New York City. In 1904, she graduated with distinction from Radcliffe College.
Helen learned five different languages and she was the first deaf-blind person to receive BA degree.
She became a celebrity because of her unprecedented accomplishments in overcoming her disabilities and she even met Mark Twain who was amazed by her.
She wrote her first book The Story of My Life, during her junior year at Radcliffe. Helen published five other books: Optimism (1903), The World I Live In (1908), My Religion (1927), Helen Keller’s Journal (1938), and The Open Door (1957).
In 1913, she began lecturing by sharing her experiences with audiences and working on behalf of others living with disabilities.
She spent most of the rest of her life as a prominent advocate for the needs and rights of the handicapped and also spoke and wrote in support of women’s rights.
in 1924, he became a member of the American Foundation for the Blind for which she later established a $2 million endowment fund.
Helen was invited to the White House by every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson.
Helen Keller became an inspiration for many people, showing that it doesn’t matter if a person has a disability and that with hard work and determination everyone can triumph over adversity.
Hellen Keller died on June 1st, 1968.