“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” – Helen Keller
Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama to Arthur H. Keller and Katherine Adams Keller. Keller was born healthy with her sense of sight and hearing. She started talking when she was just 6 months old and walking at the age of 1.
In 1882, Keller met with an illness, called Brain Fever that caused a high body temperature. Within days, when the fever broke, Keller’s mother noticed that Keller wasn’t showing any reaction to the dinner bell or if anyone is waving hand in front of her. That’s when everyone realized that Keller has lost her both sight and hearing. She was just 19 months old.
With years, she developed here own limited methods to communicate and till she was 7, she invented more than 60 signs to communicate. But still, she became wild and uncontrollable. In 1886, Keller’s mother decided to talk to the specialist. In 1887, after Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone suggested the family to visit Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. There they met Anne Sullivan on March 3, 1887, and then started the 49-year relationship.
Keller was a frustrated child, so Sullivan demanded an isolated place for them to study so that both can concentrate just on each other. Teaching Keller was a dramatic struggle. Sullivan took Keller to a water pump and put her hand under the spout. As water fall over Keller’s hand, Sullivan spelled out W-A-T-E-R on Keller’s hand. Keller understood and repeated the same on Sullivan’s hand. Keller then moved to different objects demanding Sullivan to know its name and Sullivan again spelled the word on Keller’s hand. Till the end of august, Keller knew 625 words.
Helen Keller’s Formal Education
For speech classes, Keller attended Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston (1890) and Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City (1894-96) to improve her communications skills and work on academic subjects. She also attended Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a preparatory school for women. She later attended Radcliffe College where Sullivan used to help her interpret the lectures and texts.
Keller’s First Book
After getting mastered in touch-lip reading, Braille, speech, typing and finger-spelling, Keller wrote her first book, ‘The Story of My Life’. The book was about her childhood and journey to 21-year old college student.
In 1915, she co-founded Helen Keller International to fight against the blindness and malnutrition. In 1920, she helped creating American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Between 1909 and 1921, she wrote many articles and essays named ‘Out of the Dark’ which were her views on social and world affairs.
Helen Keller soon became history’s remarkable women as she dedicated her life to improve the conditions of blind and deaf people. She lectured in more than 25 countries on the five major continents. She was known for motivating and inspiring various blind people wherever she went. Helen in her life got many accomplishments and honors including:
- Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936
- Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964
- Election to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965
- Honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- She was also named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.
Helen Keller died on June 1, 1968 in her sleep just few weeks before her 88th birthday. She was an extraordinary example of strength and a living form of motivation. She developed herself and on the same time worked for the development of the society.
“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” – Helen Keller