The Helen Keller Story
There are few alive today who have never heard of Helen Keller, who combated not only blindness but also inability to hear.
She wasn't born with either of these afflictions; she was as healthy as any other child until she reached 19 months of age. It was then that doctors diagnosed her with what they referred to as congestion of the brain, which some theorize might have been the scarlet fever.
Since she was so young when all this happened, she never got the chance to learn how to speak, and so she spent most of her young life unable to communicate properly. This left her unable to fully grasp her surroundings, and she had trouble interacting with others.
People with disabilities are often wrongly seen as helpless and weak. Many people think that, since they can't do one or two things that most others can, they must be unable to fend for themselves and live normal lives. “A blind person can't possibly learn to enjoy their life the way everyone else does, can they?
After all, they can't see, and sight is one of our most fundamental senses, right?” But the truth is that there are a large number of people whose eyes can't see, yet they didn't let that stop them from doing the things they were determined to do. They didn't just learn to live with their disability; they overcame it by thinking outside the box and getting things done in other ways.
Learning to Protect Your Eyesight is incredibly important, but these people show us that one's life isn't over just because they can't see.
Helen's life changed dramatically when she was seven years old and Anne Mansfield Sullivan came to be her teacher. She always remembered Anne's arrival as the most important day of her life, and with good reason.
It wasn't until she was taken under her new teacher's wing that she began to work past her blindness, deafness and the developmental problems they caused her. She was gradually reshaped into a responsible, healthy individual with Anne's steady guidance and the two formed a close bond that lasted until Anne died in 1936.
Anne was a graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind and had struggled with her inability to see just like Helen Keller. Fortunately, surgical procedures allowed her to regain her sight, but Helen's blindness was permanent. She needed someone to help her through life, someone to teach her that blindness wasn't the end of the road.
Anne coached Helen with various techniques designed to teach her how to spell. She started by using a doll, which was made by the children at Perkins; she would spell out the letters of the word “doll” into Helen's hand, hoping the child would begin to pick up on the pattern. The experiment was a success, and over time Helen Keller learned more and more words until she'd mastered the whole alphabet.
As time went on, Helen grew into a well-known author and civil rights activist, and has come to represent the power to overcome the apparent hopelessness faced by those with serious disabilities.
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