Helen Keller, a challenging lady with iron determination, was born on 27 June 1880 in a small town Tuscumbia in the Southern State of Alabama in the USA.
Her father Arthur H. Keller was a captain in the Confederate army, and her mother Kate Adams was Arthur’s second wife and much younger than him. Helen Keller was their first baby.
Though born like any other child, Helen was attacked with a serious illness in her 19th month, making her blind and deaf. Gradually she began to realize her difference from other children. She wondered how her mother and other relatives used their lips to express their thoughts and convey ideas to each other. During this period Helen had her little sister Mildred and a very faithful companion—a black girl named Martha.
At her age of five, the Keller family moved to a larger house with five family members—Helen herself, her parents, two elder step-brothers and her younger sister Mildred. At the age of six, Helen was brought to Baltimore to seek help from a famous opthalmologist. But as he was unable to cure her, he advised that Helen should be taken to Dr Alexander Graham Bell who might help her in matters of education.
The most important day and the turning point in her life, according to Helen herself, was on 3rd March 1887. It was the first day that Helen met her teacher and lifelong friend Anne Sullivan. She was brought to Helen’s home to teach her to read and write but provided a far greater influence on her life. She adopted a unique technique to literally spell out the word on Helen’s hand so that Helen could understand words and relate them to objects. Miss Sullivan helped Helen read by placing printed words in raised letters on small pieces of cardboard. It started with small words like ‘is’, ‘on’, doll’, bed’ etc. and later moved on to reading books or being interpreted to read.
In 1888, Helen joined the Parkins Institution for the Blind in Boston. PL of In 1890, Helen took another big step in leaming how to speak. Helen went to Horace Mann School where the principal Miss Sarah Fuller taught Helen the technique of speaking of a deaf and blind child. She would let Helen touch her face and lips and feel the movements made when she spoke. This helped Helen learn the elements of speech. Thus Helen could converse with people by lip-reading. In the meantime, she had studied many things including the history of Greece, Rome, and the USA, French grammar and a little Latin in Braille Method.
In October 1894, Helen joined the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City for achieving further progress in the voice training and power of lip-reading. Here she studied subjects like arithmetic, physical geography, French and German. In 1896, Helen was admitted to English, Latin, German and Arithmetic. But as she could not complete her studies at Cambridge School, she was home tutored by Mr Keith. After that, she overcame all the hurdles and found eligible for admission to Radcliffe College in 1900. Miss Sullivan would sit in class with Helen and interpret the lessons of the professors to her. Helen used a typewriter in order to send in all her assignment. Thus she finished her course by 1905 and got her degree from the college.
Helen Keller is now best known as a famous figure in literature who overcame many hurdles for being both blind and deaf from an early age of life. Some of her well-known works include The Story of My Life, Optimism, The World I live in, The Song of the Stone Wall, Out of the Dark, Light in My Darkness, Midstream, Peace of Eventide, The Open Door.
Helen Keller was also known greatly as a humanitarian, She did not wish the same fate for others as she had suffered. And so she worked tirelessly for the blind, deaf and physically challenged.
After about 50 years as a world-renowned author, Helen Keller, on a visit to her native State Alabama, vanished and was never to be seen or heard from again.