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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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As described in The Story of My Life, how did Helen Keller's blindness affect her? 

Helen Keller's blindness and deafness affected her in that it made her unable to communicate like most children could and that many things that most people take for granted were a struggle for her. All this changed when a teacher worked out a way for Helen to communicate without needing to be able to see or hear.

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After an illness as a toddler left Helen Keller both blind and deaf, hopes for her future initially seemed futile. When you put them together, the inability to see or hear mean that communication seems impossible. Luckily, her blindness did not affect her in this way forever, because when she was about six years old, Helen was referred to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who told the family about a school in Boston where she could get the kind of help that she needed.

It was her teacher at Perkins Institution for the Blind, Miss Anne Mansfield Sullivan, who changed Anne's life forever. The first thing she tried was giving Helen a doll and spelling out the letters that made up the word onto Anne's hand. This didn't work well, because while Anne was able to replicate the letters, she did not make the connection between the word and the object.

The defining moment for Helen came when Sullivan took her outside and put her one hand under running water while spelling out the word "water" on her other hand. The connection between the two was clear, and Helen understood that the words she had learned to spell were the names of the things around her.

From that point on, Helen began to find ways to overcome her blindness, as well as her deafness. While these factors would always have an effect on her, this effect became so much less once she found an initial way to communicate.

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