By Stefanos Nikolaou
Helen Keller was born on June 27th, 1880 in Taskoumpia of Alabama. At the age of 19 months, she developed an unknown disease described by doctors as “acute congestion of the stomach and brain” which may have been commonly called smallpox or menigitis. The disease left her deaf and blind. She lived, as she recalled in her autobiography, “at see in a dense fog”.
Helen’s parents took her to famous doctors and teachers in order to help her. One of them, Michael Anagnos, asked a 20-year-old graduate of the school for the blind, Anna Sullivan, who also had some vision problems, to become Helen’s teacher. Sullivan immediately began teaching her to communicate by writing words in her hand. She was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that each object had a word that identified with it in a unique way. Keller realized the meaning of the words a month later when she was surprised to learn that the movements her teacher made in her palm of her hand while running cool water over her other hand symbolized the idea of water.
In May 1888 Keller began attending the Perkins Institute for the Blind. In 1894, Keller and Sullivan move to New York to attend the Wright Humason School for the Deaf. In 1896, she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies before being accepted, in 1900, to Radcliffe College of Harvard University. In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and became the first blind person to earn Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller wrote a total of twelve published books and various articles. At the age of 22, she published her autobiography “The story of my life” (1903), with the help of Sullivan. Keller wrote “The World I live in” in 1908, giving readers a glimpse of how she felt about the world.
Keller spent much of her later life raising money for the American Foundation for the Blind. She died in her sleep on June 1st, 1968 at her home.