By: Ruby Solomon (04/09/17)
With the help of “teacher” (Anne Sullivan), Helen Keller became the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Helen was a political activist, lecturer, and American author. Helen’s incredible story is still known today through her books Story of My Life (1903), The World I Live In (1908), and Out of the Dark (1913). Even without any vision, Helen seemed to be able to see the world in a way nobody ever had. However, her childhood was not an easy one.
Born on June 27, 1880 with both her sight and hearing, Helen Keller seemed to be an average child. At 19 months old, Helen contracted a serious illness that left her deaf and blind. The only person who seemed to be able to communicate with Helen was the six-year-old girl named Martha Washington who was the daughter of a servant. Helen’s parents, Arthur H. Keller (known as Captain) and Kate Adams, decided to hire someone to teach and educate Helen.
Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller’s home in March of 1887. The young teacher immediately began spelling words into Helen’s hand and then giving the girl the object. Helen became frustrated because she could not understand that the objects that she was given had a word which uniquely identified it. Anne’s struggle of trying to teach Helen is portrayed in the dramatic play The Miracle Worker. As seen in the play, Helen finally realizes that each object, person and idea has a word to go with it when Miss.Sullivan spells water in Helen’s hand when she has her hands under cool running water.
When Helen became in touch with the outside world, she began to learn and develop quickly with the help of Anne who was referred to as “teacher”. In May of 1888 Keller attended the Perkins Institute for the Blind followed by a number of schools which helped her learn and become the first women to earn a bachelor of arts degree.
Helen Keller is an inspiration who stood up for what she believes in, projected her values and continued to learn despite those that thought she couldn’t do it.