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Helen Keller’s (1880-1968) father was Captain Arthur Helen Keller who had fought with the Confederate army of Vicksburg. He edited a news weekly and was periodically a US Marshall. She had a brother and a sister.

At the age of 18 months a serious illness meningitis destroyed her sight and hearing. Before her illness she was a healthy child. Her father took her to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell in Washington who was an activist in deaf education. He advised him to write to the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston. Annie Sullivan was offered to tutor her. The deeper into Helens life we look, the deeper her personality appears. She was certainly a very determined woman; the first deaf blind woman ever to graduate from university, she also became renowned worldwide as a champion of social justice, a talented public speaker, and an inspiration to millions around the globe. Her accomplishments would set her apart from anyone let alone, someone who was handicapped.

  • She became a vice-president of the Royal National Institute for the blind in the United Kingdom.
  • In 1921 American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) was organized and Helen was invited to be spokesperson for the organization. She gave speeches and raised funds for blind and the related causes. Her many books and the articles became her lifes work.
  • She received the honorary degree of laws from the university of Glasgow in 1932. She met and visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
  • She collected one million Dollars and founded the American Foundation for the blind.
  • The highest honor of her own country, USA, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to her.
  • She was elected to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
  • During the Louis Braille Centennial Commemoration in 1952. Helen Keller was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.
  • Radcliffe granted her its Alumnae Achievement Award [50 years after her graduation].
  • She received the Americas Award for Inter-American Unity, the Gold Medal Award from the National Institute of Social Sciences, the National Humanitarian Award from Variety Clubs.
  • She had honorary membership in scientific societies and philanthropic organizations throughout the world.
  • Helen Kellers last major public appearance in 1961 at Washington, D. C. Lions Club meeting where she received the Lions Humanitarian Award for her life time service to humanity and inspiration of the Lions programs in sight conservation and aid to blind persons.
  • During the visit to Washington she called on President Kennedy at the White House.
  • Acceptance of Honorary Degree, delivered before Temple University at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Feb 16, 1931).
  • Acceptance of Honorary Degree delivered before Glasgow university at Glasgow, Scotland (June 15,1932).
  • Dedication of AFB Cornerstone, delivered before the American Foundation for the Blind at New York, New York (December 5, 1934).
  • Helen Keller won an Oscar Award for her story a documentary movie of her life.
  • Awarded the President Lyndon Johnson. This is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States of America.
  • Life magazine called Helen Keller one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century a national treasure.
  • The Helen Keller Prize is established to bring public attention to vision research as a solution to sight loss.
  • She was awarded the GOLD MEDAL of the National Institute of Social Science given annually to a distinguished individual who has been of outstanding service to humanity (1952).
  • Met Winston Churchill who called her the most remarkable woman of the twentieth century.

It isn’t only that Helen was able to overcome the barriers of being blind and deaf in a time when they were much greater disadvantages than they are now; her intelligence and perception speak to many people, blind or sighted, deaf or hearing, regardless of boundaries. Here are just some of the many insightful quotations that pepper her speeches and writing.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

“That we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you can never see the shadow.”

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”

“I believe that the welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.”

“I am a child of God, an inheritor of a fragment of the Mind that created All words.”

“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.
While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”