Helen Keller – 1880-1968
Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Helen Adams Keller was stricken with a scarlet fever at 19 months old, leaving her blind, deaf, and mute. Thanks to a remarkable teacher, Anne Sullivan, who remained with Keller from 1887 until Sullivan’s death in 1936, Keller learned to communicate and, at 14, enrolled in the Wright Humason School for the Deaf in New York City, went on to the Cambridge (Massachusetts) School for Young Ladies, enrolled in Radcliffe College in 1900, and graduated cum laude in 1904. Having acquired skills no one so severely disabled could ever have expected to attain, Keller decided to share her experience, not only to help and to inspire other disabled persons, but to demonstrate to the sighted and hearing world that disability did not diminish intellectual capacity or humanity. She became an enormously popular author and (through an interpreter) lecturer. Her activism brought about an international revolution in the treatment of the deaf and the blind.