As revealed in The Story of My Life, Helen Keller's autobiographical account of her first twenty two years, Annie Sullivan is Helen's teacher but she becomes so much more to Helen to the point that Helen admits in chapter seven that "I scarcely think of myself apart from her." Helen is aware of the huge impact that Annie's arrival has on her whole family and talks about Annie's arrival in March 1887 as "the most important day I remember in all my life" (chapter 4). Helen was left blind and deaf after an illness when she was a baby, and it is her parents' desperation that leads them to seek help. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell represents the turning point for Helen whose outbursts have admittedly escalated to the point of being "sometimes hourly" (chapter 3). It is Helen's inability to communicate which causes so much frustration and which Annie understands, herself only being partially sighted. She intends to teach Helen "language" and "W-A-T-E-R" (ch 3) becomes the first significant word which then allows Helen to form associations between what Annie spells into her hand and what needs to be understood.
Annie's style of teaching means that Helen is not bored by lessons which would be difficult to grasp for any child and Helen feels that she "learned from life itself" (ch 7) as Annie's methods are inspiring and bring everything into context. Annie's patience and perseverance ensure that Helen is able to reach her true potential.