Helen Keller- The Advocate for the people with Disabilities

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Helen Adams Keller marked her place in the Earth soil on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States. She fell ill when she was 2 years old. This illness made her blind and deaf. But, she could communicate with Martha Washington, the daughter of her family’s cook. By the age of seven, she had 60 signs to communicate with her family. Her mother, worried about her illness, carried her to Graham Bell, who suggested the Perkins Institute for the Blind. The advisor of the institution suggested Anne Sullivan to be Keller’s instructor. Keller was carried a long way by her teacher Anne Sullivan, who helped her to improve her communicating ability. Their relationship lasted 49 years. She helped Keller achieve a lot of things in her life. Keller was the first deaf-blind to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree.  She was graduated in 1904. She was also the founder of the ACLU.

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On March 1887, Anne began helping Keller to communicate by spelling words into her hands. Helen was irritated a lot and did not co-operate with Anne in the beginning. But, the breakthrough happened in the preceding month, when she realized that the motions made by her teacher in one hand, while running water on the other hand made her conclude that it was symbolized as Water. After that she gave Anne a hard time by asking all the other object names. She obtained her degree at the age of 24. After her college, she exposed herself to the outer world and started to work towards improving the life of others who were similar to her. Within this time, she was a celeb around England. She lectured a lot about the deaf, blind and people with other disabilities. She tried empowering women and tackled a lot of women’s issues such as women’s suffrage, birth control and pacifism. In 1915, she found the Helen Keller International to fight the causes of blindness and malnutrition. While in 1920, she helped in raising the American Civil Liberties Union. The Organization started working effectively from 1921 and in the year 1924, Keller became a member. She carried on a lot of successful campaigns to create awareness about the deaf and blind people. She also joined in other organizations which supported the deaf and blind people. Between the years 1909 and 1921, she wrote a lot of articles on socialism. Her essays on socialism described her views on world affairs and socialism. Helen was supported a lot by the media and the public, but when her essays came out, she was mocked at her disabilities. Even the media who encouraged her and praised her for her courage and intelligence had criticized her.

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She was determined to communicate with other people and so she learned to speak with the help of Anne. After learning to speak, she spent most of her life giving lectures and speeches. She could also understand what other people were talking by touching their lips with her hands. Her sense of touch had a great improvement and it was extremely subtle. She was called as the advocate for the people with disabilities. She went on to become the world famous speaker and author. In 1915, she founded the Helen Keller International organization and it was devoted to the research in health, vision and nutrition. She also helped to find the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. She travelled to many countries but her favourite was Japan. She visited Japan many times and she was a favourite of the Japanese people. She was friends with many famous persons. Helen was very close to Mark Twain and they were considered radicals at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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Helen Keller is also an author. She wrote several articles and about 12 books of hers’ were published. She started writing at the age of 11. Her first writing was about “The Frost King” which was alleged as the copy of The Frost Fairies. A review was made and it revealed that Helen would have experienced cryptomnesia. She published her autobiography at the age of 22 with the help of Anne and her husband. The book has all the incidents that have happened in the past 21 years. The book was entitled as “The Story of my Life”. In 1908, she wrote another book titled as “The World I Live In”, which gives the readers an idea of how she feels about the dark filled world. The essays which let her down by the media were “Out of the Dark”, which had socialism as the main content. This series was published in 1913. She also published a spiritual autobiography in the year 1927. She named it as “My Religion”. She then revised and reissued it with another name as “Light in my Darkness”. This book had the advices of Emanuel Swedenborg.

As said before, she was a favourite of the Japanese people. Helen was very fond of dogs and so when she visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July, 1937, she interrogated about Hachiko, the famous dog that had died in 1935. She requested the Japanese to give her an Akita dog. She was given one by the end of the month and the dog was named as Kamikaze-go. Kamikaze died in 1938 but the Japanese government gave her another dog named as Kenzan-go on July 1938. Helen is credited with having introduced the Akita breed into the United States. Within the year 1939, the breed was established and many dog shows were held in the country. But, all this activity was stopped by the commencement of the World War 2.

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Helen suffered consecutive strokes in 1961 and so she had to spend the rest of her time in her home. In 1964, the President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the year 1965, she was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She spend much of her later life for the Blind people. She wanted to raise funds for all the people with disabilities. She died on June 1, 1968, at her home. Her ashes were placed next to her beloved companion and her teacher Anne Sullivan.

Helen Keller is an inspiration to all the blind and deaf people who don’t have belief in their lives. She has worked a lot for the deaf and blind all over the world. Her birthday is celebrated as Helen Keller day in the United States. She was known by people all over the world. We have a lesson about her in the Tamil Nadu’s English Textbook. She is truly an inspiration to all the women in the world. Salute to her.

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