Helen Keller was an American activist and author who accomplished great things despite being famously both deaf and blind. Keller was taught, assisted and guided by her lifelong teacher and companion Anne Sullivan.
Her life became a shining example and inspiration for other people with various handicaps. Keller continues to inspire people around the world today.
Helen Keller was less than two years old when she suffered from a severe fever. The fever left her both blind and deaf. As she grew older, Keller mastered various signs to communicate with others. She was also able to identify others through the vibrations of their feet. At an early age, she exhibited a gift for learning which would eventually prove instrumental in turning around her life.
Helen Keller was still only 6 when Anne Sullivan was hired as her tutor. Sullivan had learned how to teach the visually impaired and deaf students, so she became Keller’s instructor. Sullivan soon devised a way of teaching words and sensations to Keller. She would spell a word on her palm and then use physical instruction such as pouring water over the hand to help her identify the sensation. This method helped Keller learn the language and its intricacies.
Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to achieve a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. Keller first enrolled at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in 1888 at the age of 8. She would later attend the Horace School for the Deaf and The Cambridge School for Young Ladies. In 1900, she gained admittance to Radcliffe College of the Harvard University. It was here that she completed her Bachelor’s and earned the degree in 1904.
In 1903, Helen Keller published her autobiography titled ‘The Story of My Life’. In this, she detailed how she had coped with her deafness and blindness, found ways to grow in life despite the handicaps, and how her friend and teacher Anne Sullivan had helped her. The book was very well received and was eventually adopted into a Broadway play as well as a film.
After completing her formal education, Helen Keller started giving lectures. Most of her lectures were about her own life, brimming with hope and inspiration for others. Keller also continued her literary efforts. She would publish a total of 12 books as well as a large body of articles during the course of her life. Her famous works include ‘The World I Live In’, ‘Out of the Dark’ and ‘My Religion’.
Despite her handicaps, Helen Keller was a tireless activist and championed civil rights. She played a role in improving the plight of the blind, deaf and dumb in the United States by creating, or helping in the creation of several organizations. She also actively supported the socialist cause and wrote about it in her articles. Keller was close friends with other writers with radical political views at the time, such as Mark Twain