Who Was Helen Keller?

Quck answer

Helen Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was born in 1880 in Alabama and became deaf and blind at the age of 19 months due to an illness. Despite her disabilities, Keller went on to achieve remarkable accomplishments. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to communicate through tactile sign language and braille. She graduated from Radcliffe College, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities and promoting social justice. Her story continues to inspire and educate people around the world.


Are you familiar with the music of Stevie Wonder? Do you appreciate the art of Frida Kahlo? Have you studied about Stephen Hawking? These individuals were all differently abled and utilized their unique abilities to achieve great things in life. Another person we can include in this list is Helen Keller.

Born in 1880, Helen Keller would become one of the most renowned individuals of the 20th Century. During her early years, Keller fell ill. Her doctor referred to it as “brain fever.” Today, experts believe she had scarlet fever or meningitis. Regardless of its name, the illness resulted in a high fever. After several days, Keller began to feel better. However, the sickness left her blind and deaf.

With the absence of sight and hearing, many tasks became more challenging for young Helen. She began to explore new methods of communication, such as developing her own form of sign language with a friend. However, she had not yet learned how to read or write. Keller’s parents sought the assistance of a teacher named Anne Sullivan.

As a child, Helen Keller had a fondness for dolls. Recognizing this, Sullivan started by teaching Keller the word for her favorite toy. She would use her finger to write “doll” on Keller’s hand until she comprehended it. After learning the word “doll,” Keller quickly acquired the word “water.” Through persistent effort, Sullivan taught Keller 300 words within their initial few months together.

Understanding new words can be challenging for anyone. Without the ability to see or hear, Helen Keller exerted immense effort to learn. Eventually, Anne Sullivan taught her how to read and write. Keller later pursued higher education and became the first person with deaf-blindness to graduate from college. In 1904, Keller earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College.

Keller later became an advocate for women’s suffrage. She also fought for the rights of people with disabilities. She embarked on travels to 35 countries while working for the American Federation for the Blind. Additionally, she played a role in the establishment of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1920, an organization that continues to advocate for equal rights to this day.

Keller’s first book, The Story of My Life, inspired a movie and musical titled The Miracle Worker. It recounted the story of her early life with Anne Sullivan. Throughout her life, Keller continued to write and published numerous essays and stories. She formed a close friendship with author Mark Twain, who referred to Anne Sullivan as the “miracle worker” due to her impact on Keller’s life.

During her lifetime, Helen Keller traveled the world, met six U.S. Presidents, and fought for equality for all individuals. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. Keller achieved all of this without the ability to see or hear. Each person possesses a unique ability to contribute to the world. What great things might you accomplish one day?

Try It Out

Enlist the help of a friend or family member to participate in these activities!

  • Isn’t the story of Helen Keller fascinating? Gain more knowledge about Helen Keller. Then, summarize your findings for a friend or family member. What aspect of Helen Keller do you find the most captivating? Engage in a discussion about your thoughts.
  • Are you feeling motivated? Explore these additional 8 individuals who serve as sources of inspiration. Who among them inspires you the most? Compose a paragraph explaining to a friend why this person is such a source of inspiration for you.
  • Helen Keller believed in the equal treatment of all individuals. Do you share this belief? Seek assistance from a friend or family member to learn about the current issue of inequality in our world. What measures do you think should be taken to solve this problem? Draft a letter expressing your support for your opinion.

References for Further Reading

  • http://www.afb.org/info/about-us/helen-keller/biography-and-chronology/biography/1235 (accessed 27 Mar., 2019)
  • www.biography.com/.amp/people/helen-keller-9361967 (accessed 27 Mar., 2019)
  • https://www.perkins.org/history/people/helen-keller (accessed 27 Mar., 2019)
  • https://www.biography.com/people/anne-sullivan-9498826 (accessed 27 Mar., 2019)

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