Helen Keller
June 27, 1880 - June 1, 1968

Helen Adams Keller was born a healthy baby to a loving mother and father in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Helen was a happy, healthy baby until she developed a fever at the age of 19 months and lost her hearing and sight.

Helen's mother and father saw many doctors and spoke to many people as they searched for a way to help Helen. They spoke to the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, who had become very active in deaf education. Alexander told Helen's parents about the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. That is how Helen's parents learned about a graduate from the school, Anne Sullivan.

Use the Icon if you would like the paragraphs above read to you. Flash Audio

Helen was seven and was not very well behaved when Anne came to live with the Keller family. The fact that she could not communicate was very frustrating for Helen and sometimes because she was frustrated she would have tantrums. Anne worked hard with Helen to teach her how to behave and spent many hours finger spelling into Helen's hand. It took several months for Helen to understand that finger spelling was a way to communicate words. Finally, Helen understood that finger spelling had a meaning when Anne spelled W-A-T-E-R into Helen's hand as she pumped water over it. Helen was very excited, once she realized that the finger spelling would allow her to communicate.

After that Helen was a fast learner. She learned how to form letters using her fingers. She learned the shape of letters and used a grooved board to print block letters. She also learned the Braille alphabet, which is a special alphabet made up of raised dots in different positions. The braille alphabet is used by many blind people to help them read. Helen was such a fast learner some people called her a "miracle" child.

Use the Icon if you would like the paragraphs above read to you. Flash Audio

When Helen was nine years old she began to learn how to speak and she learned how to read lips with her fingers. Helen was good at reading peoples words with her fingers, but it took many years of practice for people to understand her when she spoke. Everyone could understand Helen's writing, though and she was a very good letter writer.

As Helen completed her studies for high school she decided she would like to go to college with "sighted students" and chose Radcliff. Officials at Radcliff did not think Helen would be successful, but she passed the entrance exams and was allowed to attend classes. Anne went to college with Helen and translated all the lectures and books. Helen graduated with honors.

After college Helen wrote many books, traveled across the country and to foreign countries; she helped disabled veterans and became an active spokesperson for the American Foundation for the Blind. Helen is remembered as a great woman because she helped the world understand that people with disabilities can overcome their disabilities and live good, productive lives.

Use the Icon if you would like the paragraphs above read to you. Flash Audio

Additional Web Resources: