EPITAPH : HELEN KELLER

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Welcome to Epitaph for D’s Art Takes. Here we present the creative legacies of influential people, who are no longer among us. Today we invite you to take a look at the life of the American author and activist, Helen Keller.

Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA. During the civil war, her father had served in the Southern Army. Following this, he became an for a daily local. She lived with her parents and two step siblings. They were a humble family.

At about 19 months, little Helen lost her abilities to see and hear. The doctor was not able to provide a proper diagnosis as to what caused this sudden change. And Helen’s mother tried everything, but to no avail. Helen found a friend in the family cook’s daughter, who was about her age. The two would communicate with each other in a special sign language only they knew.

Life & Career : Helen Keller

Young Keller took her disability in her stride. She honed her tactile senses and depended on her hands to guide her. Not only did she communicate in sign language. But also learned Braille at the Perkins Institution. She attended the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. Here, she was tutored by Sarah Fuller. Subsequently, she also attended Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York. Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Massachusetts. And finally Radcliffe College. Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to ever graduate. By this time, she had mastered her disabilities.

Keller began sharing her experiences in the Ladies’ Home Journal. She documented her journey and struggle. The subject of disability was very sensitive and taboo. But she told her story anyway through various magazines.

A few years after her graduation, Keller also started to write books. Most of these were about her, her journey and her experiences. Optimism (1903), The World I Live In (1908), Light in My Darkness and My Religion (1927) are a few. Apart from his, Keller also gave lectures to people with special needs like her. She fought for better treatment of people with disabilities. Her activism contributed greatly to the removal of asylums for the disabled. It helped reduce the ostracisation of such communities. She established a $2 million endowment fund for the American Foundation for the Blind. And also helped set up the American Civil Liberties Union.

Helen Keller died in 1968. Her legacy remain immortal.


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