Helen Keller

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Helen Keller

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her father's name is Captain Arthur Henley Keller and her mother is Kate Adams Keller. Helen lost her sight and hearing at the age of nineteen months to an illness now believed to have been scarlet fever. Five years later, on the advice of Alexander Graham Bell, her parents applied to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston for a teacher, and from that school hired Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Through Sullivan’s extraordinary instruction, the little girl learned to understand and communicate with the world around her. She went on to acquire an excellent education and to become an important influence on the treatment of the blind and deaf. She helped change the world first by, before anyone had ever heard of Helen Keller, people that were blind, deaf and/or handicapped in some other physical way were treated very harshly. They were sometimes an embarrassment to their families, and were often sent off to be cared for away from the rest of the family. No one ever cared if they could learn and be productive people. However, thanks to the example of Helen Keller and her victory over deafness and blindness, we know that everyone has something positive to contribute to the world around them if they are given the chance. Secondly, Helen Keller was a major fundraiser for the American Foundation for the Blind. Through these fundraising efforts, AFB continues to assist blind people in the areas of technology, education, independent living, literacy, and employment. Helen Keller also campaigned to make braille the standard system of reading and writing for people with vision loss. Earlier, four other systems were being used. This caused confusion and made it tough for people who were blind to communicate with each other. Thanks to Helen's work, braille became the standard system around the world in 1932. Helen Keller pushed the United States government for more assistance to the blind. In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which offered unemployment insurance, retirement funds, and assistance for children to the disabled. Thanks to Helen Keller's hard work, blind people were included in the category of "disabled," which meant they could apply for financial help. As Helen Keller traveled the world, she changed the lives of millions of people with visual impairments. She brought them courage and hope. Thanks to her visits, many real improvements became available such as better job training, more braille books, books on tape, and better educational opportunities. Today, many people who are blind or visually impaired look to Helen Keller as their role model.


June 27, 1880- Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. February 1882- After being struck by illness, Helen loses both her sight and hearing. No one is ever sure exactly what disease she had, but some people think it was scarlet fever. March 3, 1887- Anne Sullivan comes to the Keller home and begins teaching Helen letters by signing into her hand ("manual sign language"). April 5, 1887- Anne makes the "miracle" breakthrough, teaching Helen that everything has a name by spelling W-A-T-E-R into Helen's hand as water flows over her palm. Fall 1889- Helen goes to Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, her first formal education. September 1900- Helen becomes a member of the freshmen class of 1904 at Radcliffe College. 1902- With the help of an editor, Helen writes The Story of My Life. June 28, 1904- Helen becomes the first deaf-blind individual to earn a college degree, graduating with honors from Radcliffe. Spring 1909- Helen joins the Suffragist movement, demanding the right to vote for women. October 1924- Helen and Anne begin their work with the American Foundation for the Blind. April 1930- Helen, Anne, and Polly Thompson travel abroad for the first time, visiting Scotland, Ireland, and England for over six months. This trip is only the beginning of Helen's travels overseas -- she would eventually visit 39 countries! January 1943- Helen visits blind, deaf, and disabled soldiers of World War II in military hospitals around the country. September 1964- President Lyndon Johnson gives Helen the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. June 1, 1968- Helen Keller dies in her sleep.

Helen Keller received numerous awards throughout her life for her humanitarian efforts. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen the highest American honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On the 50th anniversary of her graduation from Radcliffe College, she received the Alumnae Achievement Award. Radcliffe also dedicated the Helen Keller Garden to her and named a fountain in the garden for her teacher Anne Sullivan. Helen later received Brazil's Order of the Southern Cross, the Philippines' Golden Heart, Japan's Sacred Treasure, and in 1991, was named one of the most important people of the twentieth century by Life magazine.


"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others." "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart."


113.14b.11B The student is expected to identify historical figures such as Helen Keller and Clara Barton and contemporary figures such as Ruby Bridges and military and first responders who exemplify good citizenship.

Helen Keller



Helen Keller


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