Helen Keller

Topics: Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Laura Bridgman Pages: 5 (1657 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Imagine a life without being able to see or hear and not knowing how to communicate with anyone around you. That world of darkness is what Helen Keller lived in for six years. Helen Keller has been an inspiration to people ever since she turned six. From 1886-1960, she proved herself to be a creative and inspiring woman of America. She was a writer and lecturer who fought for the rights of disadvantaged people all over the world. Most importantly, she overcame her two most difficult obstacles, being blind and deaf. Helen Keller devoted her life to improving the education and treatment of the blind, deaf, and mute and fighting for minorities as well. Miss Keller was one of the first to educate the public and make them aware of inflicted individuals' potential. Because of her persistence and strength, she is considered a creative and unique spirit by many people of the world, especially those who can relate to her physical impairments.

Helen Keller was born a healthy child. When Helen was 19 months old, she became ill with what was known as acute congestion of the brain and stomach; this is now known as scarlet fever. As a result, she was left blind, deaf, and mute. For many of her earlier years Helen lived in darkness with very few ways to communicate with others around her. Obviously her attempts were not always successful. When she failed to communicate she would throw fits and have outburst that would upset not only her, but her family as well. Because of these violent fits, she appeared to be a very unruly child, but underneath all of the tragedy was a future inspirational figure that would surprise the world with amazing and countless abilities.

A large amount of Helen's accomplishments would not have been possible if it weren't for her mother and father. Her parents read about Samuel Gridley Howe's accomplishments with the deaf and blind at the Perkins Institution in Boston. With this knowledge, her father brought his daughter to Alexander Graham Bell, a family friend who was well known in society. Bell was so fascinated by six year old Helen that he recommended that she contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. Anne Sullivan, who was also a recent Perkins graduate, was suggested to be Helen's teacher by Michael Anagnos. Michael Anagnos was the professor of Samuel Gridley Howe, a gentleman who was having great success working with the deaf and blind at Perkins (Notable 389).

Helen's greatest inspiration and life long companion, Anne Sullivan, arrived at her home in Alabama in March of 1887. In just a couple of weeks, Helen learned that everything had a name and that she could communicate with others by using the manual alphabet. Helen also found that she could use the manual alphabet and lip reading to prove her intelligence. The manual alphabet is a system that contains 26 hand symbols, one for each letter of the alphabet. It is used to finger spell words. After a couple months of practice, she learned hundreds of new words. In the middle of July, just four months after Sullivan's arrival, Helen was able to write her very first letter to her mother. People around the world were so amazed by her accomplishments that her first biography was written when she was only fourteen years old (Ashby & Orhn 190).

After the earlier successes, Helen and her teacher both left for the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston in 1888 to provide Helen with a more formal education. Helen and Miss Sullivan moved to New York in 1894 in order for Helen to study at the Wright Humason School for the deaf. Anne raised money so that her student could attend the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. In 1896, Helen began her studies at Cambridge which included French, Greek, literature, mathematics, geography, and history. She then went on to attend Radcliffe College in 1980. In 1904, she graduated cum laude and received her AB Degree (Notable 390).

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