The biography of Helen Keller, an American author, activist, and lecturer who overcame the dual disabilities of blindness and deafness to become one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.
She was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and died in Westport, Connecticut, on June 1, 1968.
This biography offers a glimpse into the life of Helen Keller.
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Early Life and Struggle of Helen Keller
Helen Kelle had a vision problem as a newborn and caught her first glimpse of the world through a cochlear implant (a device for assisting hearing).
She lost the ability to see and hear at 19 months due to an illness that doctors later identified as scarlet fever or meningitis.
Her family moved to New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine for more suitable accommodations. Eventually, they found their way back to Alabama.
While there, she attended school only briefly before being forced by circumstances to leave again because of deafness.
Her doctor recommended that baby Helen be placed in an orphanage where she would be cared for and educated.
She was sent to live with several caretakers, but they could not prevent her blindness and deafness from returning.
As a result, she became trapped in a world of darkness and silence, unable to communicate with anyone.
Helen became frustrated and angry, often lashing out at her family and caregivers.
Only when Anne Sullivan, a young teacher, arrived in her life did things begin to change.
In 1887, Annie Sullivan arrived at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts as Helen’s teacher.
She taught Helen sign language and became her mentor, confidant, friend, and inspiration for much of Keller’s public speaking.
Education and Accomplishments
Anne Sullivan, also visually impaired, worked tirelessly to teach Helen how to communicate using finger spelling and sign language.
In 1904, Helen graduated from Radcliffe College, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
She became a prolific writer, publishing twelve books and numerous articles, and advocated for the rights of people with disabilities.
Activism and Humanitarian Work
Helen Keller was a tireless advocate for social justice and humanitarian causes.
She was a member of the Socialist Party of America and supported numerous progressive causes, including women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, and pacifism.
In addition, she worked with the American Foundation for the Blind and other organizations to improve the lives of people with disabilities, including by providing education and vocational training.
Legacy and Honors of Helen Keller
The biography of Helen Keller would not be complete without highlighting her impact and contributions to persons with disability.
Helen Keller’s life and accomplishments have profoundly impacted the world.
Her story has inspired countless people to overcome challenges and helped change attitudes toward people with disabilities.
She received many honors during her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame and the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
Helen Keller was a woman whom adversity could not break. Her life story is one of triumph over disability, which she overcame with sheer will and determination.
During her brief adult life, Keller became an advocate for those with disabilities and founded The Keller Foundation in 1945.
Awards of Helen Keller
Helen Keller received many awards over her long life. In 1972 Helen Keller became the first person ever to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon.
She received a second presidential medal from Gerald Ford in 1977 and one from Ronald Reagan in 1981.
In addition, she was awarded honorary doctorates of law from both her alma mater, Radcliffe College, and Brown University.
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Helen Keller’s remarkable life is a testament to the power of education, determination, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Despite facing enormous obstacles, she refused to let her disabilities define her and instead used her talents and passion to impact the world positively.
Her legacy inspires generations to strive for their dreams and work towards a more just and equitable society.