Women in history: Helen Adams Keller

1956: Portrait of American writer, educator and advocate for the disabled Helen Keller (1880 - 1968) holding a Braille volume and surrounded by shelves containing books and decorative figurines. A childhood illness left Keller blind, deaf and mute. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Helen Adams Keller was an American author, activist, and lecturer who was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

At the age of 19 months, Keller contracted an illness, which left her blind and deaf. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller learned how to communicate using tactile sign language and braille. Sullivan helped her develop her language and communication skills and encouraged her to explore her interests in reading, writing, and social activism.

Keller attended Radcliffe College and graduated with honors in 1904, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She went on to write several books, including her autobiography, “The Story of My Life,” which was later adapted into a play and a movie.

Keller was a vocal advocate for people with disabilities and a supporter of numerous social causes, including women’s suffrage, pacifism, and workers’ rights. She traveled extensively and gave lectures and speeches about her experiences and beliefs.

Throughout her life, Keller received numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor. She also co-founded the Helen Keller International organization, which works to prevent blindness and malnutrition around the world.

Keller passed away on June 1, 1968, at the age of 87. She is remembered as a symbol of perseverance, courage, and determination, and her life continues to inspire people around the world.

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