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Helen Keller

Fact title Fact data
Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA
Known for:
A writer who confounded attitudes by proving her disability was not debilitating

Writer, journalist, activist, ambassador, deaf, blind… Helen Keller’s life was defined by what she could do.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

1. She learnt to read and write despite never hearing or seeing a word

Illness rendered Keller deaf and blind as a baby, before she could fully grasp the concept of words or what they described. But thanks to the pioneering work of teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller not only learnt to read and write but went on to graduate from University.

2. She inspired a world she was cut off from

Keller wrote a best-selling – still in print – autobiography, contributed to newspapers, gave speeches and toured the world discussing everything from women’s rights to atomic energy. As America’s Goodwill Ambassador to Japan in 1948 her talks reached over two million people. She also met and impressed leading figures like author Mark Twain, phone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and Winston Churchill.

3. She was an activist by example

Keller’s writing and activism did much to raise awareness of disability around the globe at a time when a lack of rights and inferior treatment of disabled people was common. Confounding prejudice and changing attitudes, the way she lived her life helped disabled people the world over.