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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller
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What efforts did Helen make to speak before her meeting with Miss Sarah Fuller?

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In chapter 13, Helen mentions that she had always had the urge to speak and that she used to make noises while keeping one hand on her throat and the other hand on her lips. Helen was always fascinated by anything that made noise and would often feel her pets' throats when they purred or barked. She also recalls enjoying the vibrations emanating from pianos and people's throats while they were singing. Helen would often sit on her mother's lap, place her fingers to her mother's mouth and attempt to replicate her mother's lip movements. She also mentions that she would make unintelligible sounds at times in an attempt to exercise her vocal cords. Helen was aware that other people had a different method of communicating and was encouraged to learn how to speak after hearing the story of Ragnhild Kåta. Fortunately, Miss Sarah Fuller agreed to teach Helen how to speak, and Helen began the arduous process of learning how to talk.

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Helen had long had a desire to speak. She communicated by fingerspelling, but longed to use her voice as others did. She knew other people communicated by speaking.  

As a young girl, Helen "used to make noises, keeping one hand on [her] throat while the other hand felt the movements of [her] lips" (Chapter XIII). Though Helen could not hear, she knew others spoke with their mouths by using her sense of touch. She pressed her fingers against the mouths of family members and close friends to feel their lips moving in speech. She also enjoyed the feeling of a cat purring or a dog barking. After Helen lost her hearing and eyesight, she remembered her word for water. She repeated the word "wa-wa" even though she could not hear.

Helen learned about a deaf and blind girl from Norway who learned to speak. This inspired Helen, and she sought assistance from Miss Sarah Fuller in learning how to speak herself.

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