was a pioneer of education for the deaf
and blind and an open advocate for women's
rights. She is best known for overcoming
her own challenges with being deaf and
blind and advocating better educational
and working conditions for the seeing
and hearing disabled.
Adams Keller was born to Captain Arthur
Henley Keller and Kate Adams Keller on
June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. At
the time of her birth she had all of her
sight and full hearing. It wasn't until
she was nineteen months old that she lost
her ability to see and hear. According
to documents, she fell ill with a severe
fever and was expected to die. Although
young Helen managed to survive what doctors
now believe to be either scarlet fever
or meningitis, she lost her sight and
hearing during the ordeal.
a young child Helen Keller threw constant
temper tantrums by throwing dishes and
destroying other belongings. Her parents'
relatives believed she should be institutionalized.
Desperate for help, Mrs. Keller visited
a local doctor who advised her to consult
with Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of
the telephone and advocate for the proper
education for deaf children.
Mr. Bell, Mrs. Keller came by Anne Sullivan,
a partially blind woman who had been taught
at a local school and was willing to teach
little Helen Keller. Anne moved onto the
Keller property and took Helen into her
little cottage to live and learn. Helen
continued to throw tantrums while Anne
taught her words by spelling them on her
hand. At first Helen didn't understand,
but, after a month, Anne and Helen made
a connection at the family well. "Water"
was the first word the Helen really seemed
to understand and from that day forward
she made amazing progress with communication.
Keller learned to read Braille, write,
and even speak to some degree. With the
help of Anne she attended Cambridge School
for Young Ladies and later Radcliff College.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts
degree in 1904, a first for a deafblind
married John Albert Macy, a man she and
Helen met during their time at Radcliff
who helped Helen publish her books, in
1905 and the three of them moved in together.
John helped Keller publish "The Story
of My Life", "The World I Live
In", and "Out of the Dark".
and Anne toured the world giving lectures
and even performances about their experiences
together and the world of the deafblind.
After their successes in different sections
of society and film, Anne, John, and Helen
moved to Forest Hills, New York where
Helen became an advocate for the American
Foundation for the Blind to help improve
education and working conditions for blind
Keller survived two successive teachers
after Anne Sullivan's death in 1936 and
eventually passed away in 1968 four years
after receiving the Presidential Medal
of Freedom for her work on educational
and working rights for the blind around
the world. One year after receiving the
medal she was inducted into the Women's
Hall of Fame at the World's Fair in New
ashes rest next to Anne Sullivan's at
the National Cathedral in Washington DC.
"The Unconquered", a documentary
based on Helen's life, won the Academy
Award for best documentary. "The
Miracle Worker", a play based on
Anne and Helen's first struggles with
communication, was eventually made into
a movie and won Oscars for actresses in
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