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          Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much  — Helen Keller


Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Born: June 27, 1880, Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States
Died: June 1, 1968, Easton, Connecticut, United States
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Movies: The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller in Her Story
Education: Radcliffe College (1900–1904),
      American educator Helen Keller overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the ACLU.

  The Mystery of Language

Have you heard about her before? She was born 150 years ago in a small town in Alabama, USA. Her name is Helen Keller. When Helen was one and a half years old, she became seriously ill and lost her ability to hear and see. Till she was six, Helen spoke through simple signs and actions, for simple words like ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Mother’, ‘Come’ and ‘Go’. 
When she died at the age of 87, she had written many books, won many awards and films had been made about her life and work. 
Now read on to know more about this remarkable person. 
Student: Teacher, if she could only communicate through signs, how did she write a book? 
Teacher: I will tell you her story. 
Student: Thank you, teacher! 
Teacher: When Helen was one and a half years old, she lost the ability to see and hear. It became more and more difficult for her to share what she wanted to say, because her mind was racing ahead. Despite this, she learnt to do some chores at home, like folding her clothes and putting them away. 
Student: What did Helen’s parents do ? 
Teacher: Helen’s parents realized that she needed a person who could teach her to communicate with people. So they took her to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. He had also discovered ways of helping children who found it difficult to hear. His wife, Mabel, had lost her hearing at an early age due to fever. He suggested that they write to Perkins school. 
Student: What did they do at Perkins School ? 
Teacher: Perkins School was established nearly 200 years ago and serves people who have problems with their vision. Helen’s mother Kate wrote to the Head of Perkins School to ask for a teacher and they sent her their star student, Anne Sullivan. The day she arrived, Helen’s life began to change. 
Student: What did Anne Sullivan do? 
Teacher: Anne was 21 when she came to teach Helen. She found a way to make Helen understand words and their meanings. She began to teach Helen letters by writing them on her palm. 
Student: Wasn’t that difficult? 
Teacher: It was difficult at first. Then, something happened that made Helen’s learning much faster. She learnt the word, ‘Water’. Let us hear about this in Helen’s own words: ‘Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the stream rushed over one hand, she spelled into the other, the word, ‘water’, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed….suddenly I felt a thrill…and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.’ Do you know, Helen learnt 30 new words that day? Quickly she learnt words and then sentences.
Student: What a wonderful teacher! 
Teacher: Yes. Helen’s teacher wanted her to explore the world around her to ask questions and to experience nature. Helen loved to smell and touch flowers to respond to nature. She was a learner till the end of her life. She knew three other languages knew how to play chess and even ride a horse! 
Student: Did Helen go to college? 
H.R : Helen was the first person among those who could not hear or see, to graduate with distinction from any College. While she was at Radcliffe College, she wrote her first book, ‘The Story of My Life’, that has been translated into 50 languages! 
Student: This is so wonderful to hear! What else did she do? 
Teacher: She was a visionary and a pioneer, helping to make the world a better place for differently abled people, particularly children. Later on, in her long life, Helen Keller concerned herself with the needs and rights of the unemployed and the poor as well. She went on many lecture tours with her teacher and even acted in a film!  
Student: Has she acted in a film? 
Teacher: Yes. Many films and plays have been made about her and her amazing teacher. Student: I wish I could meet her! Teacher: That is a nice thought! But Helen Keller died peacefully in her sleep, in 1968. She was 87 years old. But her mission lives on, to inspire and guide each one of us in our journey into love and acceptance of diverse abilities among people and in the world around us.

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