Helen Keller: Cloth doll from Alabama. Her facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, etc., ) are hand painted on face. Her hair is made from long brown yarn that is braided and pinned in back of her head. She is wearing earrings and a necklace with red stones. Her dress is made from a cotton print material, and it has white lace at the neck. She also has a full, white petticoat. Her body is stuffed cotton; although her hands and legs are flannel. She is wearing black cotton boots.
Anne Sullivan: Female teacher doll holding ruler and wooden slate. She has a straw bonnet over her curly hair and is wearing wire glasses. Her head is a wood bead, and she has a hand painted face. Her body is made with a large wood cone, and her arms are wire. She is wearing a long dress that is reminiscent of many one-room schoolhouses. Signed: “Florence Hathorne Magee 1999.”
Main language: English
Currency: US Dollar
Construction: cloth, yarn
Height in Centimeters: 60
Height in Inches: 24
Reading Level: 4.90
Can you imagine what it would be like if you lived in complete darkness? You would not be able to see your parents, your toys, or your room. It would be very hard to move without bumping into things. That’s what being blind is like.
Next, imagine that you also have earplugs that block out all sounds and noises. You wouldn’t be able to hear someone calling your name; you wouldn’t hear music or the sounds of nature. That’s what it means to be deaf.
My name is Helen Keller. I was born in Alabama in 1880. For the first year of my life, I was “normal.” Then I got sick, and I lost all of my sight and all of my hearing. Suddenly, I was blind and deaf. I lived in a very dark and quiet world.
At that point, everything was very frustrating for me. I could not see, hear or talk. So I kicked, scratched and screamed when I didn’t get what I wanted. For example, at dinner, I would just take food from everyone’s plate with my hands. My parents felt sorry for me, so they spoiled me and ignored my tantrums.
When I was almost 7 years old, my parents heard about a school for the deaf. They talked to Alexander Graham Bell, who knew a lot about teaching deaf children to talk. He suggested that my parents hire a special teacher to live with us. That teacher, Anne Sullivan, changed my life.
Anne had lost her sight from an eye infection. She was legally blind until she was 15 years old. Then, she had an operation that restored some of her sight. She was an expert of the Manual Alphabet, known as finger spelling. To “talk” to a person who is deaf and blind, you spell out each letter in the palm of his or her hand. Each letter has a particular sign or placement. For example, the letter M is three fingers, and the letter N is two fingers. A double tap means “Yes” and a swipe means “No .”
Of course I didn’t know about the Manual Alphabet when Anne came to teach me. I was very confused when she started moving her fingers in my palm. I was only seven, and did not know how to spell or read. Then, one day, we went to the water pump. As water was flowing over one hand, she spelled WATER, in my other hand, over and over again. Finally, I understood that the finger motion meant something.
After that, I wanted to know the names of everything. The very first day I learned 30 words. After 6 months, I knew 600 words. By the time I was 10 years old, I knew how to read Braille, which is raised dots on paper that blind people can read by feeling the dots.
Anne was my teacher, friend and companion for 49 years. When I went to college, she spelled out my textbooks for me. I learned to read French, German, Greek and Latin in Braille. When I was 24, I graduated from college. I was the first deaf-blind person to ever receive a college degree.
Anne also taught me to speak by feeling the throats and mouths of other people. Later, I worked to help others who had special needs. I was the author of 12 books, and went to over 40 countries to talk about ways to prevent blindness. I definitely had a full life. In 1964, when I was 84 years old, I was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1965, I was elected to the Women’s Hall of Fame. I died in 1987, and was buried next to my teacher in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.