Articles

 

 

A Miracle Worker
From Darkness to Light....

 

Helen Keller (with her prized doll in her lap) with her Miracle Teacher - Ann Sullivan. Doll was the first word that Ms Sullivan taught Helen.

 

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, activist and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to graduate from college.

 

The story of how Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic set up of 'The Miracle Worker'.

 

Helen Keller was born in Alabama, on June 27, 1880, to Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain".. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind.

 

Her parents contacted Perkins Institute for Blind to find tutor for her.

 

The School delegated teacher and former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, eventually evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

 

Sullivan got permission from Keller's father to isolate the girl from the rest of the family in a little house in their garden. Anne loved Helen dearly and loved her like she was her child. Her first task was to instill discipline in the spoiled girl. Keller's big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her hand, symbolized the idea of "water"; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world (including her prized doll).

 

In 1890, ten-year-old Helen Keller was introduced to the story of Ragnhild Kåta, a deafblind Norwegian girl who had learned to speak. Kåta's success inspired Keller to want to learn to speak as well. Sullivan taught her charge to speak using the Tadoma method of touching the lips and throat of others as they speak, combined with fingerspelling letters on the palm of the child's hand. Later Keller learned Braille, and used it to read not only English but also French, German, Greek, and Latin. Later she wrote 2 books and acted in a movie. She also received Oscar Award for her autobiography, ' The Story of My Life".

 

By nature she was a conceiver, a trail-blazer, a pilgrim of life's wholeness. So day by day, month after month, year in and year out, she labored to provide me with a diction and a voice sufficient for my service to the blind.

 

—Helen Keller, writing about Anne Sullivan

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