a plain, black well-pump in the small southern town of Tuscumbia,
Alabama, one of the world's great miracles took place. It began one
bright, spring day in 1887. Puffy white clouds floated overhead on a
background of blue, while birds fluttered through oaks and maples and
flowers burst forth from the fertile soil in an array of colors—all
unheard and unseen by a pretty girl of seven.
Standing at the totally blind and deaf Helen
Keller's side was a young woman, Anne Sullivan. Miss Sullivan was
steadily pumping cool water into one of the girl's hands while
repeatedly tapping out an alphabet code of five letters in the
other—first slowly, then rapidly. The scene was repeated again and again
as young Helen painstakingly struggled to break her world of silence.
Suddenly the signals crossed Helen's consciousness
with a meaning. She knew that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the cool something
flowing over her hand. Darkness began to melt from her mind like so much
ice left out on the sunny March day. By nightfall, Helen had learned 30
Helen Adams Keller was born a healthy child on
June 27, 1880, to Captain Arthur H. and Kate Adams Keller of Tuscumbia.
At the tender age of 19 months, she was stricken with a severe illness
which left her blind and deaf.
At the age of six, the half-wild, deaf and blind
girl was taken by her parents to see Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.
Because of her visit, Helen was united with her teacher Anne Mansfield
Sullivan on March 3, 1887. After Helen's miraculous break-through at the
simple well-pump, she proved so gifted that she soon learned the
fingertip alphabet and shortly afterward to write. By the end of August,
in six short months, she knew 625 words.
By age 10, Helen had mastered Braille as well as
the manual alphabet and even learned to use the typewriter. By the time
she was 16, Helen could speak well enough to go to preparatory school
and to college. In 1904 she was graduated "cum laude" from Radcliffe
College. The teacher stayed with her through those years, interpreting
lectures and class discussions to her.
Helen Keller, the little girl, became one of
history's remarkable women. She dedicated her life to improving the
conditions of blind and the deaf-blind around the world, lecturing in
more than 25 countries on the five major continents. Wherever she
appeared, she brought new courage to millions of blind people.
Her teacher, Anne Sullivan is remembered as "the
Miracle Worker" for her lifetime dedication, patience and love to a
half-wild southern child trapped in a world of darkness.