In The Story of My Life, how is Helen Keller's main purpose to inform others about what life is like for people with visual and/or hearing impairments?

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I think Keller's purpose was to show the fundamental humanity of people with disabilities, and part of that is explaining her internal life as a child who could not see or hear. There is a kind of otherness to her mature writing which seems at odds with her stories about...

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I think Keller's purpose was to show the fundamental humanity of people with disabilities, and part of that is explaining her internal life as a child who could not see or hear. There is a kind of otherness to her mature writing which seems at odds with her stories about her childhood, as if her writing self was a kind of abled guide and almost a separate person to her disabled self.

She explains as much at the beginning of her book, when she speaks of her childhood, that

. . . when I try to classify my earliest impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present. The woman paints the child's experiences in her own fantasy.

Her description of her childhood, her relationship with Martha Washington and the pranks she played on her mother and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, suggest that, for all her difference, Helen was still the precocious girl she was before the illness that took away her sight and hearing. In that sense, the story of her education is a story about how her writing self, the voice of The Story of My Life, came to be—a self that is both like and unlike the child.

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The story is an autobiography in which Helen Keller tells people about the experiences she has had being blind and deaf and the difficulties she has faced. 

This story is nonfiction, meaning it really happened.  Helen Keller’s objective for writing the story of her life was to let people know that a person with disabilities may have challenges others do not face, but can still accomplish things that people without disabilities can do. 

The story serves its purpose because Helen Keller lets us into her mindset and emotions from a very young age.  She was a courageous and sensitive person, and very intelligent.  Her intelligence allowed her to overcome several years of darkness when as a child she could not see or hear, and therefore had trouble learning to talk. 

When you read about someone else’s experiences, you develop empathy for that person.  We may look at the blind and deaf differently when we realize that although they experience the world in a different way than we do, they are just like everyone else.  Helen Keller wanted to support awareness for people with her condition. 

Helen Keller often shares how she worked hard to become a part of the regular world, and to be able to communicate with people effectively.  Even as she got older she continued to try to learn new skills to make it easier to function.  She shares how, for example, she tried to learn to read lips. 

It was my ambition to speak like other people, and my teachers believed that this could be accomplished; but, although we worked hard and faithfully, yet we did not quite reach our goal. I suppose we aimed too high, and disappointment was therefore inevitable. I still regarded arithmetic as a system of pitfalls. (Ch. 17) 

Despite being blind and deaf, Helen Keller worked to learn French and German.  She went to college and studied multiple subjects alongside seeing and hearing students.  At that time, there were few resources for the blind or deaf.  Her schoolbooks were not even available in braille, and she had to have them spelled to her.  Yet she persevered, and her legacy is an inspiration to all of us to be more inclusive to people with different abilities.

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