Keller, Helen (Adams)(1880–1968) author, lecturer; born in Tuscumbia, Ala. She became blind and deaf at 19 months, and in a breakthrough made famous by subsequent popular dramatizations, was taught to speak, read, and write when she was seven years old by Anne Sullivan, known as "Teacher" to Keller and "the Miracle Worker" among the general public; Sullivan remained Keller's interpreter and companion until her death in 1936. Keller received communications by lipreading, braille, and finger-spelling using a manual alphabet; she expressed herself through finger-spelling, typewriting, and speech. She achieved international celebrity as a child, graduated from Radcliffe College (1904), and as an adult lectured and published widely on both her own experiences and political, social, and educational issues; she promoted socialism and women's suffrage and raised funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. She remains a model of achievement among the severely disabled.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
(1880–1968) Achieved greatness despite blindness and deafness. [Am. Hist.: Wallechinsky, 13]
(1880–1968) overcame handicap of deafness as well as blindness. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1462]
(1880–1968) though blind and deaf, becomes noted author and lecturer. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 439–440]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.