Surprise! Hellen Keller’s contributions to the world did not end after she finger signed ‘water’ to Anne Sullivan.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this already famous woman, Helen Keller was born on on June 27, 1880 with the ability to see and hear. However, at 19 months old, she became sick with what was probably scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her both deaf and blind. She was able to sign in her own way, and by the time she was seven, she had over 60 signs she used to communicate to her family. Her mother, inspired by Charles Dickinson’s writings of successfully educated deaf women, sent for a tutor and Anne Sullivan was sent to their house. Things were rough to say the least. Young Helen didn’t understand that each object had a unique word to go with it, and even became violent at times. The breakthrough came when Helen signed the word ‘water’ to Anne, and then became fanatic about knowing the names for everything.
She was subsequently educated at several colleges, and even learned to speak out loud. She ‘heard’ others speech by feeling their lips move with her hands. She used these skills to become and outspoken activist, not only for disabled people, but for birth control, and the woman’s right to vote. She traveled the world, and upon her trip to Japan, she was introduced to the Akita breed of dog. She fell in love and brought the first Akita to America. She published 12 books, many of them about her own life.
Upon her death, she was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest awards for a civilian in the USA.
Hellen Keller was a suffragette, birth control supporter and authored 12 books in her lifetime. Her first book was published at age 11, and her subsequent book, The Story of My Life, told