She graduated from college with honors – I think that says more than anything that Helen Keller is the biggest inspiration for deaf people. She proved that anything a non deaf person can do, a deaf person can do.
Heather Whitestone also did that by winning the Miss America pageant, however I believe that it is possible that Helen Keller inspired her and showed her that she could do anything a non deaf person can.
It is hard enough for people that are hearing to go to college and complete it; there is a high percentage of college dropouts in the USA, so when a deaf woman graduated, it must have inspired every deaf person that heard about it.
Also the fact that it was a WOMAN who was not only deaf, but graduated with honors must have made a big statement back then because women’s rights were not as significant as they are today.