Born in 1880, Helen Adams Keller was rendered blind, deaf and dumb at 19 months by an illness (possibly scarlet fever). Examined by Alexander Graham Bell at six, she was sent to the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston to be taught by Anne Sullivan Macy. Perhaps understandably, the isolated Keller had grown into an undisciplined, ill-tempered child.

In only months, Keller had learned to associate objects (identified by touch) with words consisting of finger signals on her palm, to read raised words on cardboard, and to rearrange such words in a frame to make sentences. Having subsequently learned braille, she slowly aquired the ability to speak under Sarah Fuller of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. Indeed, she was able to lip-read by placing her fingers on the throat of the speaker in question.

Passing through the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in NYC and the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Masachusetts, she was admitted to Radcliffe College in 1900 and graduated cum laude in 1904.

She began to write of her situation and her life, first in articles for magazines and later in several books. In 1913 she began lecturing with the aid of an interpreter, primarily for the American Foundation for the Blind, playing an important role in improving the treatment of the deaf and blind, and prompting the organisation of many commissions for the blind. Keller died in 1968.

I had always considered such a case to be a lost cause; it appears that there is always a way if one looks hard enough. And to think we complain when in Helen Keller mode!

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