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Helen Keller Deaf Resources 2

Helen Keller is remembered as one of the world’s most inspirational and influential person. A famous author, lecturer, and activist; Keller was also the first deaf & blind person to have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree when she graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904.

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her father, Arthur H. Keller was a Confederate Army captain before he worked as an editor for the North Alabamian. Her mother, Kate Adams, was the daughter of a Confederate Army brigadier-general. When Keller was 19 months old, she contracted an illness described as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”. Though she recovered from the illness quickly, she became deaf and blind as a result of the damage. The young Helen Keller learned and used more than 60 signs to communicate with those around her.

In 1886, Keller’s mother learned about the successful education of Laura Bridgman, a deaf and blind child via Charles Dickens’ American Notes. Helen Keller and her father came into contact with Alexander Graham Bell who referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind; it was there that the school’s director recommended the services of a young visually impaired former student by the name of Anne Sullivan.

In March of 1887, Sullivan moved to the Keller residence. She showed Keller how to spell words into her hand and improve her level of communication. Initially, the lessons were very difficult, because Keller didn’t understand that a unique word can be used to identify a particular object. Through patience and perseverance, Sullivan succeeded in educating Keller, so she was able to attend Perkins Institute for the Blind in 1888.

After graduating from Radcliffe College, Keller traveled the world and became a popular author and presenter. Other than advocating for the disabled, she was also a birth control supporter, a pacifist, and a suffragist. In 1915, she founded the Helen Keller International organization with George Kessler. On June 1, 1968, Keller passed away at her home in Easton, Connecticut.