Helen Keller: Fact or Fiction?

Helen Keller: Fact or Fiction?

Grace Kennedy, Writer

Helen Keller, soon to be well-known and influential, was born on the 27th of June in 1880. Helen wasn’t like any other baby. Just nineteen months after coming into the world, she developed a febrile illness that left her with a lifelong effect of being both blind and deaf. Kate and Arthur Keller were her parents, and her siblings were James, William, Midred, and Phillips Keller. The Keller family grew up in Tuscumbia, Alabama, for thirty-seven years before Keller, Sullivan, and Thomas moved to London, New York. 


Since she had lost her hearing and vision, she grew up communicating through signals pressed into her palm, feeling lips, and reading and learning braille (braille is a certain pattern of dots that blind people can feel to be able to understand information). As a result of practice, she was able to speak vocally and sign to interact with people.


In 1904, Helen was finally done with high school. She wanted to go to college to pursue gaining information about history, economics, and foreign languages. She was interested in French, German, and Latin. She would always push herself to do great things, even though she knew that she had to work harder than everyone else. 


Once Keller learned how to communicate, she was not shy about voicing her opinion. Not only was she extremely smart in school, she was well-known as a woman who spoke her thoughts. She was very politically involved. She was a member of the Socialist Party from 1909 to 1921. She would speak out about women’s rights, the effects of war, and military intervention. Other causes that she was very adamant supported were women’s suffrage, disabled people, birth control, and pacifism. 


She is known for being the first blind and deaf person to graduate college. Graduating college and getting a bachelor’s degree is one thing, but being able to do it with a disability is astonishing and a great admiration to those like her. Clearly, Keller was able to accomplish a great many things, but given her disability some people have questioned her achievements.


The most popular debate is whether or not Helen flew a plane in 1946. What people don’t understand is that she was not alone on the small plane. When up in the air she took control of the stick and that is considered flying a plane. Personally, I have never taken any lessons on flying a plane, but I have taken control of a small plane. I didn’t need to see or hear to figure out the movement of the plane. 


The second argument is if she wrote a book. People don’t understand how she wrote down what she wanted to say. Just like the plane information, people forget about the part where she has people who help her. She wrote and published her first book in 1903. What people fail to know is that John Macy was by her side the entire time, helping her write her book about her life up to the age of twenty-one.


When talking to people about their opinions on Helen Keller, I’ve heard people say that SHE isn’t real. I think that they have a flawed argument. I think what they mean to say is they don’t believe that she did all the things that she is accused of doing. Whether it be the plane that she flew, her being able to talk while being deaf and blind, or any other arguments, they just don’t believe that she could accomplish these feats. It is a known fact that she was a real person—she was born and she died. 


Hopefully, I was able to open your mind to more information and see how a strong woman can overcome unreal obstacles while struggling with a disability. She was never going to stop fighting to prove people wrong, and I am writing this to tell you all the amazing things that she was capable of doing.