American author and political activist Helen Keller is not only an important figure, but also a role model in U.S history.
Helen Keller is famous for a multitude of accomplishments as a deaf and blind person. She lost her sight and hearing at just over a year old, but despite this, was a strong humanitarian, activist, and writer. She was the first deaf and blind person to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree and was a spokesperson for the less privileged, aiding the women’s suffrage movement and pacifism among other things.
Keller was seen as an idol and representative for people with disabilities. Read more to find out why.
Keller’s Life Growing Up
Helen Keller was born in 1880, in Tuscambia, Alabama to Army veteran Arthur H. Keller and wife Katherine Adams Keller.
She was not born with disabilities, but she contracted a serious illness just one year after her birth, leaving her both deaf and blind.
In the 18th century, most deaf or blind people were institutionalized, but Keller’s parents were financially capable of granting her the opportunity to learn to live normally.
For most of the era, educational resources were not readily available to disabled people.
Kellen therefore did not receive a formal education until she was 7 years old.
She would communicate with her family by observing their facial expressions for five years; this was a very difficult period in the family’s life.
Although Keller did not like the idea at first, she would soon warm up to Sullivan, who would become her lifelong guide and companion.
Sullivan had been blind as a child, and had an operation to regain her sight. Yet, she lost her vision again in her later years, facing struggles similar to Keller’s.
She attended various prestigious educational institutions throughout her life, such as Radcliffe College where she graduated from.
Helen Keller’s Accomplishments
Before even graduating, Keller had completed and published two books that would foreshadow her career as a talented writer.
She published The Story Of My Life in 1902 and published the book Optimism just a year later.
Shortly after, she was the first deaf and blind person to be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Keller was an advocate for those with disabilities, and wrote several pieces for magazines and newspapers regarding blindness in children and its causes.
She published over 12 books in her lifetime, and co-founded Helen Keller International foundation which was to help people with disabilities.
The author and activist travelled to over 25 different countries to give speeches about her inspirational story.
She lived with Sullivan and her husband John Macy, who was a social critic and a Harvard University Instructor. Keller took inspiration from his views.
Her autobiography, The Story Of My Life, became so famous that it was even adapted into a film titled The Miracle Worker.
In 1971, Keller was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Wall of Fame.
She was recognized as an advocate for social and economic justice, often citing statistics that the poor were more likely to suffer from disabilities.
Being an outspoken activist for people with disabilities, and having undergone her own hardships from being deaf and blind, Keller’s work inspired many.