Helen Keller-(June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968)– The first Deaf and Blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Helen Keller is a master piece example of trust and determination,She is the lady who accomplished unbelievable success despite of being Deaf and Blind.She overcomes all Physical limitations by her efforts ,and with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan
The story of Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan is clearly explained in her autobiography, “The Story of my life”, It is also depicted in a film named The Miracal Worker.
Her birthplace is now Converted into a museum that sponsors an annual “Helen Keller Day”. 27th june is observed as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania and, the centenary year of her birth, was recognized by a presidential proclamation from US President Jimmy Carter.
Today, Helen Keller is not just a character who existed at some time,but,she is a masterpiece of motivation.Her story is a must know for every one ,especially ,the growing children who are lost in in this materialistic world in-spite of having all the comforts and support.
Helen Keller family lived on a homestead, Ivy Green, built by Helen’s grandfather . She had four siblings: two full siblings, Mildred Campbell (Keller) Tyson and Phillip Brooks Keller, and two older half-brothers from her father’s prior marriage, James McDonald Keller and William Simpson Keller.
Her father, Arthur Henley Keller was an editor of the Tuscumbia North Alabamian and had served as a captain in the Army. Her mother, Catherine Everett (Adams) Keller , known as “Kate”, was the daughter of a Confederate general.
When Keller was just 19 years old she suffered from an unknown illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which might have been fever or meningitis. The illness left her both deaf and blind. She lived, as she recalled in her autobiography, “At sea in a dense fog”.
At that time, Keller was able to communicate somewhat with Martha Washington, the two-years older daughter of the family cook, who understood her signs; by the age of seven, Keller had more than 60 home signs to communicate with her family, and could distinguish people by the vibration of their footsteps.
In 1886, Keller’s mother, sent the young Keller, to seek out physician J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist for advice with her father.
Chisholm referred the Kellers to Alexander Graham bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell advised them to contact the Perkins Institute for the blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated.Michael Anagnos, the school’s director, asked a 20-year-old alumna of the school, Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired, to become Keller’s instructor. It was the beginning of a nearly 50-year-long relationship during which Sullivan evolved into Keller’s governess who later became her best companion.
Sullivan arrived at Keller’s house on March 5, 1887, a day Keller would forever remember . Sullivan immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with “d-o-l-l” for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present. Keller was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that every object had a word uniquely identifying it. In fact, when Sullivan was trying to teach Keller the word for “mug”, Keller became so frustrated she broke the mug. But soon she began imitating Sullivan’s hand gestures. “I did not know that I was spelling a word or even that words existed,” Keller remembered. “I was simply making my fingers go in monkey-like imitation.”
Keller’s breakthrough in communication came the next month when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of “water”. Writing in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, Keller recalled the moment: “I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a type of consciousness as of something forgotten — a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, set it free!” Keller then nearly exhausted Sullivan, demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world.
Helen Keller was viewed as isolated but was very in touch with the outside world. She was able to enjoy music by feeling the beat and she was able to have a strong connection with animals through touch. She was delayed at picking up language, but that did not stop her from having a voice.
In May 1888, Keller started attending the Perkins Institute for the Blind. In 1894, Keller and Sullivan moved to New York to attend the Wright School of Deaf, and to learn from Sarh fuller . In 1896, they returned to Massachusetts, and Keller entered The Cambridge School For Young Ladies, before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliff College of Harvard University . In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Determined to communicate with others as conventionally as possible, Keller learned to speak and spent much of her life giving speeches and lectures on aspects of her life. She learned to “hear” people’s speech by reading their lips with her hands—her sense of touch had heightened. She became proficient at using braille as well. Shortly before World War I, with some assistance she determined that by placing her fingertips on a resonant tabletop she could experience music played close by.
Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Sullivan married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914. Polly Thomson was hired to keep house. She was a young woman from Scotland who had no experience with deaf or blind people. She progressed to working as a secretary as well, and eventually became a constant companion to Keller.
Anne Sullivan died in 1936, with Keller holding her hand, after falling into a coma, Keller and Thomson moved ahead,traveled worldwide and raised funds for the blind. Thomson had a stroke in 1957 from which she never fully recovered, and died in 1960. Winnie Corbally, a nurse originally hired to care for Thomson in 1957, stayed on after Thomson’s death and was Keller’s companion for the rest of her life.
This is the story of a Teacher and her student,both of them were physically challenged,but they become their best companions .Their relationship is a matter of trust,faith and determination to hold on with life and never give up.
This story also teaches us that if we try,we can overcome any difficulty or situation of life.Life is a journey guided by our own thoughts and aspirations.
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