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In Celebration of Helen Keller

Helen Keller was a champion for people who are blind or deafblind. This article highlights her literacy skills through reading and writing.

Helen Keller reading a braille book


Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 and we pause this week to salute a woman who devoted her life to the rights of people who are blind or deafblind.  She was a prolific reader and writer, and many of her original letters are housed in the archives at Perkins School for the Blind. 










Helen Keller's first letter, June 17, 1887


She learned to write using block printing, and her handwriting is quite legible, as seen even in the first letter she wrote 10 days before her seventh birthday.








Letter  written in French by Helen Keller



She handwrote this letter in French in 1890 to Michael Anagnos, who was the director of Perkins School for the Blind.






Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller on Martha's Vineyard


She wrote many letters in her lifetime, and carried on lively correspondence with many famous people, including Mark Twain and Eleanor Roosevelt.  To read more of her letters, visit the Perkins Archives




Helen Keller at her desk


In 1902 she became the first person who is deafblind to write a book.  Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was the first of 14 books she wrote in her lifetime.











Helen Keller reading braille



In 1918, teachers in the United States adopted braille as the official writing system for people who are blind, thanks in great part to Helen Keller. She was a very eloquent and influential proponent for this writing system.





To see more photos of Helen Keller, visit the Helen Keller Collection from the Perkins Archives.

All photos courtesy of the Perkins Archives.


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