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Helen Keller Deaf Resources 3

Helen Keller was an American advocate, author, lecturer and political activist. Born in 1880, she contracted an illness when she was 19 months old that lead to her deaf and blindness. Although the illness did not last for a particularly long length of time, the doctors’ description suggest that it may have been meningitis or scarlet fever. When Helen Keller became deaf and blind, she was only able to somewhat communicate with the daughter of the family cook, Martha Washington, who was familiar with her signs. By the time she had turned seven, Helen was able to communicate over 60 signs with her family.

Anne Sullivan was the teacher that was able to break through the nearly complete lack of language, so that Helen could learn how to effectively communicate with others, despite her disabilities. She attended a series of schools for the blind and deaf, including the Perkins Institute, Wright-Humason, Horace Mann School, the Cambridge School for Young Ladies and Radcliffe College. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Helen Keller was also a prolific author, was well-travelled and was very outspoken in regards to her opposition to war. She also campaigned for a number of causes including workers’ rights and women’s suffrage.

Helen Keller spent the last years of her life in her home. In 1961, she suffered a series of strokes and in 1964, she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom—one of the top two United States’ civilian honors. In 1965 at the New York World’s Fair, they elected her to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. After raising funds in much of her later life for the American Foundation for the Blind, she passed away in her sleep on June 1, 1968.