|Helen Keller at old age|
Every time the story of Helen Keller is told- in the Deaf community, in the blind community, in the community of civic and faith leaders, in the academia, and what have you, it is always impossible to not mention Ann Sullivan. Before Helen Keller had a chance to attend formal schools to get an education, Ann Sullivan had taught young Keller whole lots and lots about lots of things which prepared the Deafblind woman for more formal education in various educational institutions. But in fact, Ann Sullivan stayed on as Helen’s teacher and best friend long after Ms. Sullivan had taught her. Before teacher Ann passed away, the both of them had been very best friends.
We thank Ann Sullivan for her extraordinary services. But I know there are many persons with compassionate and brilliant personalities like Ann Sullivan who are helping the Deaf to discover themselves.
FORMAL EDUCATION AND FAME
Away from home, Helen Keller attended various educational institutions. She began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. For 25 years, Helen Keller would toil to learn how to make a clear speech so that others could understand her. Sadly, there was no well-organized system of sign language at the time. In later years, Helen Keller attended university. She got to Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a prep school for women. As she got out more and more, to learn more and more, her fascinating story became known to the public. We all know that the people like compelling personal stories that lead to excellence and remarkable life.
Keller had mastered many methods of communication, including lip reading, braille, speech, typing and finger spelling. As her confidence grew, she began to meet famous figures including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain who introduced her to other significant personalities. Many of them had found Helen Keller’s talent, drive and determination to be particularly beautiful.
With the help of teacher Sullivan, and Sullivan’s future husband, John Macy, Keller wrote her first book, The Story of My Life. In there, she talked about her transformation from childhood to a university student. Keller graduated from Radcliffe in 1904. She was 24.
HER LATER LIFE
Keller, despite the enormous challenges that had confronted her, went on to become a prolific writer, author, lecturer, social and political activist, and an advocate for the Deaf and other people with disabilities. Helen Adams Keller was an inspiring figure who met with Keller every U.S. President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson. On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of America’s two highest civilian honors.
In 1961, Helen Adams Keller experienced runs of strokes and spent the last seven years of her life at her home where she passed away at the age of 87 in 1968 in Easton, Connecticut, U.S. Today, and for years to come, the spirit of Helen Keller will live on in our lives, in particular, the community of the Deaf.
WE LOVE YOU HELEN!