How did Ms. Sullivan manage to teach Helen despite her inability to see and hear?

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In March of 1887, Miss Anne Sullivan visits Hellen for the first time to begin her training and proceeds to make letters with her fingers into Hellen's hands using what is known in sign language as the manual alphabet. After spelling words like "doll," Miss Sullivan gives the item to Hellen in hopes that she will make the connection. Hellen experiences her first breakthrough in learning when Miss Sullivan places her hands underneath a running spout and spells the word "water" using sign language. Hellen finally understands the key to language by realizing that the letters and words spelled into her hands have meaning. After Hellen's breakthrough, Miss Sullivan proceeds to teach Helen about abstract concepts like love and eventually teaches her how to speak by allowing Hellen to feel her tongue and mouth when she talks. Miss Sullivan successfully taught Hellen how to communicate by constantly spelling words into her hands and allowing her to experience life by describing Hellen's atmosphere nearly everywhere she visited.

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Miss Sullivan had been trained at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, where she had gone because a bacterial infection had left her almost blind. At the institute, eye operations improved her sight a good deal. She also learned the manual alphabet, a way of writing into another person's palm.

The key to Miss Sullivan's ability to teach Helen despite her pupil's blindness and deafness was the manual writing. Miss Sullivan could write in Helen's hand, and Helen could comprehend what her teacher was communicating through touch.

The biggest obstacle Miss Sullivan faced was getting her young charge to understand that what she was writing in her hand had meaning. She needed Helen to connect the writing to objects in her world. Once this was accomplished, Miss Sullivan had a reliable method to teach her student.

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