Helen Keller Comprehension

Helen Keller was born in Alabama in 1880. Before she was two years old, she became seriously ill and was left deaf and blind.

Helen could only learn about things around her by touching with her hands. She made up signs for a few things like yes, no, come, and go. She felt lonely because she could not hear, see, or speak. She became angry, and threw fits a lot. Her parents decided that she needed someone who could help her understand the world around her and how to behave in it.

So, Anne Sullivan came to teach her. She taught Helen by using her hands to spell words. She would use sign language by signing a letter with her own hand, and pressing her hand into the palm of Helen's hand. Helen soon learned to make the same signs with her hands, but did not really understand what they meant.

One day Ms Sullivan put Helen's hand under the water pump and spelled the word water in Helen's other hand. Finally, Helen understood that these signs, called finger spelling, were naming the things in her world. It was as if a light had suddenly been turned on. She was so excited that she wanted to know the names of everything.

Ms Sullivan was a gifted teacher and worked hard to help Helen learn. After she taught Helen the names of everything, she had to teach her the things that any other child learns in school, like history, science and math. She also taught Helen how to read Braille, groups of raised dots that stand for letters.

When Helen got older, she went to the Perkins School for the Blind. Then she went to Radcliffe College. She was the first blind and deaf person to ever graduate from college. As a grown-up, Helen was a public figure and a writer. She used sign language to tell people about her life. She also wrote a book about her life. Ms Sullivan was there with her, every step of the way. They remained companions for 49 years, until Ms Sullivan died in 1936. Helen Keller died in 1968, at the age of 88.

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Literacy Specialist

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