My Favorite Person from Deaf History

by Ruth Grant

(Mobile, Alabama)

Without a doubt, Helen Keller is my absolute favorite person from Deaf History. My third grade teacher read the story of Helen Keller to us and showed us the alphabet in sign language. I was fascinated by the language and have continued learning about the culture and the language.

I saw the movie starring Patty Duke and was moved by the obstacles Anne Sullivan faced trying to teach a child who had no way to communicate with the world around her. Being deaf and blind made the task even harder. But Anne persevered and eventually helped Helen to associate the shapes of the letters in her hand with the item it represented. She stared with words like “water” and “doll”.

What earns my respect for Helen Keller is that she didn’t allow her challenges to keep her from exploring the world around her and achieving what is deemed difficult even for people without challenges. Helen graduated from Radcliffe and became the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She would meet 12 presidents and wrote 12 published books.

She was like a sponge when it came to soaking up every experience and opportunity. She truly experienced life in a way that very few sighted/hearing people ever dream of doing. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Spet. 14, 1964 and was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair in 1965.

She died on June 1, 1968.

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