In 1984 President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating the last week of June as “Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week”. This year it runs from June 24th to June 30th 2018.
Who is Helen Keller?
Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Al. In 1882, Helen, was stricken by an illness called “brain fever”, that left her blind and deaf at 19 months of age. Modern experts believe Helen’s “brain fever” to actually be either Scarlet Fever or Meningitis.
Helen Keller was an American Author, political activist and lecturer. Most people know of Helen Keller through the film “The Miracle Worker”. It is the story of how Keller’s teacher Anne Sullivan broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language and how she learned to communicate. She went on to become the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, she graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904.
From an early age, she championed the rights of the underdog and used her skills as a writer to “speak truth to power”. She protested the United States involvement in World War I, as a Socialist she took up the cause for worker’s rights in 1920. As founding member of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and also a tireless advocate for Women’s Suffrage. Keller joined The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) in 1924 and worked for the organization for forty years. AFB provided a global platform to advocate for the needs of people with vision loss, her efforts to improve treatment of the deaf and blind were influential in removing the disabled from asylums.
Helen Keller passed away at the age of 87 on June 1, 1968 at her home in West Port, CT.
Helen Keller, c. 1904.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-USZ62-112513)