Serving People with Disabilities in Northern California
Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker.
A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled, and was outspoken in her opposition to war. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the International Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, and socialism, as well as many other leftist causes. Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities, amid numerous other causes. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, an opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical socialist and a birth control supporter. In 1915 she and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920 she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Keller traveled to over 39 countries with Sullivan, making several trips to Japan and becoming a favorite of the Japanese people. Keller met every U.S. President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson and was friends with many famous figures, including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. Keller and Mark Twain were both considered radicals at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.
Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles.
Video clips of Helen Keller are available on YouTube, including a short documentary of her life from the 1950’s:Part 1, Part 2, Part 3