The story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller is the story of a dedicated teacher and an eager student. This story is very remarkable and inspiring because the teaching was done without sight and without sound.
Helen Keller was born in the American state of Alabama in 1880. She was a happy and healthy baby, but before she reached the age of two, she was struck by a severe fever. As a result of this fever, she became both deaf and blind.
After her illness, the young Helen Keller learned to use her other senses. For example, she touched other people’s hands to figure out what they were doing. In this way, she also learned that people could communicate by moving their lips. Helen could not talk; instead, she communicated with her family by making sign movements with her hands and body. However, Helen became very frustrated by her inability to see, hear, and talk. She often became very angry and had many “temper tantrums.”
When Helen Keller was six years old, her family took her to see Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who was an expert on educating deaf children. (This man was also famous for inventing the telephone.) As a result of this visit, Helen’s parents hired a tutor for their daughter. The tutor was a very intelligent deaf woman named Anne Sullivan.
At first, it was difficult to teach Helen because she still made many angry outbursts. Gradually, Anne Sullivan gained Helen’s trust. One day, Anne began to teach Helen to communicate. Anne took Helen to a well and pumped some water onto Helen’s hand. Then, Anne used her finger to write the letters w-a-t-e-r onto Helen’s hand. By repeating this, Anne was able to teach Helen how to write the word “water.”
As soon as Helen learned that things could be named in this way, she wanted to learn the names of many other objects and actions. She was curious about many things, and learned a great number of words. She also learned to read by using the Braille alphabet. This alphabet allows the reader to feel letters and words, which are represented by bumps on a page. Also, Helen learned to talk, by feeling and then copying the movements of people’s mouths.
When Helen Keller was 16 years old, Anne Sullivan went with her to college. Anne acted as Helen’s interpreter, and Helen was very successful in her studies. After her graduation, Helen dedicated her life to improving conditions for the blind, the deaf, and the poor. Anne Sullivan died in 1936 and was remembered as the “Miracle Worker” for her triumph in educating Helen Keller.
After Anne’s death, Helen continued to give lectures in countries around the world, and was active in many political causes. She met with presidents and prime ministers, and helped to improve conditions for people who were deaf or blind. At the time of her death, in 1968, Helen Keller was one of the most admired people in the world.