Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Blind and deaf since early childhood, Keller exemplified by her life of activism the full empowerment potential of disabled persons who receive appropriate adaptive education. She served as a spokesperson and fund-raiser for the benefit of deaf and blind people.
Helen Adams Keller was born in a small town in northern Alabama to Kate Adams Keller and Captain Arthur Keller, a Confederate Civil War veteran. At nineteen months, Helen suffered an illness that left her blind, deaf, and eventually mute. She remained locked in this lonely state of sensory deprivation until she reached the age of six, when her family employed Anne Sullivan, the twenty-year-old daughter of working-class Irish immigrants, as her tutor. Sullivan herself was visually impaired.
With Sullivan’s devoted, creative, and stubborn help, Helen soon rediscovered the concept that concrete things are associated with linguistic symbols—in her case, the letters of the manual alphabet spelled into her hand. Once that breakthrough was made and communication was reestablished, the young girl worked quickly to master manual lip-reading, handwriting, typewriting, Braille, and basic vocal speech. Helen’s recovery of communication was aided by the residue of language skills that had developed before she went deaf, by a stimulus-rich home environment, by the early age at which her adaptive education began, and by her own...
(The entire section is 1894 words.)
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Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, the daughter of Captain Arthur Keller, a former Confederate officer, and his second wife, Kate Adams Keller. She lived as a normal, healthy child for the first eighteen months of her life. In February 1882, however, she became ill with what doctors called "acute congestion of the stomach and brain." A conclusive diagnosis of the exact disease has never been made, but her family discovered shortly after her recovery that she had lost both her sight and her hearing.
She spent the next five years unable to communicate by using language but showing a lively intelligence in her use of signs to make her wishes known. Her parents refused to institutionalize her, as many of their friends recommended, and instead kept her as an active, member of the household. But their pity for Helen caused them to spoil her badly, and by the time she was seven she was becoming a formidable adversary. Realizing that something must be done before she grew absolutely uncontrollable, her parents consulted eye and ear specialists in the hope of finding a cure. None of the doctors could heal the damage the illness had caused, but Dr. Alexander Graham Bell suggested that the Kellers contact the Perkins Institution for the Blind to see if Helen could be educated. The director of the institute, Mr. Michael Anagnos, offered one of its recent graduates as a teacher for the child, and Helen Keller's life and success are...
(The entire section is 1190 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Mark Twain characterized Helen Adams Keller as “the greatest woman since Joan of Arc,” a description still fitting more than a hundred years after her remarkable accomplishments began to be publicized throughout the world. She became one of the best-known humanitarians of the twentieth century. The daughter of newspaper editor Arthur H. and Kate (Adams) Keller, Helen developed a fever that left her deaf and blind at nineteen months of age. She lived in a frustrating world of dark silence until 1887, when twenty-year-old Anne Mansfield Sullivan came from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston to be her teacher. Sullivan had been taught by her blind-deaf roommate, Laura Bridgman, to communicate using the manual alphabet, and she was determined to teach language to Keller by finger-spelling into her hands. Keller recounts her breakthrough in connecting words with objects in her autobiography The Story of My Life, which became an instant classic. This story has since been retold in scores of biographies, as well as in television, stage, and film versions of William Gibson’s perennially popular drama The Miracle Worker.
Keller had a gift for language that would have been remarkable even for a child with perfect vision and hearing, and she was tireless in her efforts to learn language. Shortly after mastering manual...
(The entire section is 740 words.)
Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Alabama, the daughter of Arthur Keller, a former captain in the Confederate Army. At the age of nineteen months, Keller was stricken with a disease which has never been clearly identified. It left her blind and deaf. Her education began when Anne Sullivan became her teacher in 1887, after young Helen’s situation had come to the attention of many celebrities of the time.
Keller was a rapid learner, and her earliest letters and school assignments proclaimed her love for literature and her desire to become a professional writer. Her first book, The Story of My Life, was written while she was a student at Radcliffe College, from which she was graduated, with honors, in 1904. The autobiographical work describes in great detail Keller’s education by Anne Sullivan.
Most of Keller’s works have been largely autobiographical; the author often complained that nobody seemed interested in her views about the world at large. When she wrote of politics, religion, and other outside matters, many critics dismissed her writings as the works of others who were merely trying to use Keller’s celebrity status to further their own ends. Those who actually knew the woman, however, have always denied this.
In 1909, Keller joined the Socialist Party, and in 1913, published Out of the Dark, a...
(The entire section is 384 words.)
Biography (Ethics (Ready Reference series))
At the age of eighteen months, Helen Keller suffered a severe illness that left her blind and deaf. She could not communicate with other people. When Helen was eight years old, her parents hired a teacher, Anne Sullivan, from the Perkins Institution for the Blind. Ms. Sullivan taught Helen a manual alphabet and finger-spelled the names of various objects. Within two years, Helen learned to read and write in Braille. At age ten, Helen learned to speak by feeling the vibrations of Ms. Sullivan’s vocal cords. In 1990, Anne Sullivan accompanied Helen Keller to Radcliffe College. Four years later, Helen graduated cum laude and began writing essays on the rights of the handicapped. Her published articles caused people to become more aware of handicapped people. She lectured worldwide and gained the support of famous people on improving the rights of the disabled. Her publications include The World I Live In (1908), Out of the Dark (1913), Helen Keller’s Journal (1938), and Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy (1955). Helen Keller was an activist for the rights of the disabled until her death in 1968.
Blatt, Burton. “Friendly Letters.” Exceptional Children 51 (February, 1985). A notable article on Keller’s...
(The entire section is 398 words.)
Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880. She suffered a serious illness at the age of nineteen months that left her blind and deaf. While Keller initially devised gestures and actions to make herself understood, she knew that she was not like other children. Still, she learned to perform household chores such as folding laundry and tried to remain as much a part of the family as possible. Over the years, however, her frustration at not being understood made her angry and hostile, and she often erupted into uncontrolled fits.
Keller’s parents realized that she needed special teaching but were unsure where to find it. When Keller was six years old, her parents took her to see Alexander Graham Bell, who recommended that they contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind. They did, and Anne Sullivan was sent to teach Keller how to communicate and also to educate her on a wide range of educational subjects.
Keller proved to be an enthusiastic and bright student. Once she had mastered the manual alphabet, Keller learned to read Braille and became a voracious reader. After hearing that a blind and deaf Norwegian girl had been taught to speak, Keller also learned to speak, attending Horace Mann School for the Deaf for instruction. Keller, and her escort Sullivan, also studied at a number of other schools, including Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. In 1904, Keller graduated with honors...
(The entire section is 458 words.)
Biography (Women's Issues (Ready Reference series))
Although scarlet fever left Helen Keller blind and deaf at the age of nineteen months, with the help of her mentor, Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to read braille and to lip-read by placing her thumb and forefingers on the speaker’s face. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, specializing in languages and philosophy. Keller was an early advocate for the American Foundation for the Blind and wrote several influential books, including The Story of My Life (1902), The World I Live In (1908), Helen Keller’s Journal (1938), and Teacher (1955).
Blatt, Burton. “Friendly Letters.” Exceptional Children 51 (February, 1985). A notable article on Keller’s personal growth.
Brooks, Van Wyck. Helen Keller: Sketch for a Portrait. New York: Dutton, 1956. Worthwhile.
Einhorn, Lois J. Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. From the series Great American Orators.
Harrity, Richard, and Ralph G. Martin. The Three Lives of Helen Keller. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1962. Contains scores of photographs.
Herrmann, Dorothy. Helen Keller: A Life. New York: Alfred...
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