Helen Adams Keller

Tuscumbia, Alabama she was the first of two daughters born to Arthur H. Keller and Katherine Adams Keller. Keller wasn’t born without sight and hearing and at 6 months old she was speaking. When she was only 18 months old Keller contracted “brain fever” producing a high body temperature. After a few days after the fever broke, her mother noticed she didn’t react when the dinner bell was rung or when someone waved there hand in her face. She had lost both her sight and hearing.

In her childhood she developed a limited ethod of communication with Martha Washington, the daughter of the family cook. But eventually Keller became wild and unruly; she would kick and scream when angry, and giggle when happy. In 1886 Keller’s mother came across Charles Dickens, she read the education of another deaf and blind child, Laura Bridgman. Keller and her father went to Baltimore to see specialist Dr. J. Julian Chisolm. Chisolm recommended Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf children as well.

He suggested the Perkins Institute where they found Anne Sullivan. March 1887 Sullivan came to the Keller home and immediately went to work. She started to teach Keller finger spelling and began with the word “doll,” to help her understand. Keller was curious then she was defiant, and refused to cooperate with Anne. Sullivan kept working, forcing Helen to learn and go through the lesson. Tantrums increased and Sullivan demanded that she be isolated with Keller so she could get her full attention.

They moved into a cottage on the farm. She taught her the word “water”; she helped her make connections between the objects and the letters by taking her to the water pump and putting her hand under the spout. Keller spelled water into Sullivan’s hand she responded. Keller began going around to other objects learning their names, and by nightfall she had learned words. In 1890 Keller started speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the deaf. For 25 years she learned to speak so others could understand her. 896 she attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a school for women. She became known publicly and met famous people such as Mark Twain who was impressed with her. Henry H. Rogers’s friend with Mark Twain was so impressed he paid for her scholarship to attend Radcliff College. Keller had mastered several methods of communication such as touch-lip reading, Braille, peech, typing, and finger spelling. After college, Keller went to learn more about the world and how she could help improve others lives.

Beginning and half of the 20th century Keller tackled social and political issues such as women’s suffrage, pacifism and birth control. 191 5 she co-founded Helen Keller International to fight causes of blindness and malnutrition. She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1921 when the blind was established she had a national outlet for her efforts. She joined the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund to help the less fortunate. Soon after college she experienced public prejudice about her disabilities.

Press had been overwhelmingly supportive of her and her courage and intelligence. Some criticized her, calling attention to her disabilities. 1936 Keller’s teacher and devoted working secretary became Keller’s companion after Sullivan’s death. Age 75, Keller went on the longest trip of her life: a 40,000-mile trip trek across Asia. She brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people. In 1961 Keller suffered from a series of strokes, and spent the remainder of her life in her home in Connecticut.

In her life time she had received doctoral degrees from the Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Keller died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, a few weeks before her 88th birthday. In her remarkable life, she stood as a wonderful example of how determination, hard work, and imagination can allow an individual triumph over adversity. Overcoming difficult conditions she grew a respected and world-renowned activist who labored for the betterment of others.

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