As a baby, Helen Keller lost both her sight and her hearing.
She also could not talk, so it was hard to let other people know what she wanted or needed.
One day in 1887, when Helen was almost 7, a “miracle worker” arrived at her house: Anne Sullivan (later Macy), a teacher of blind children.
Sullivan faced an incredible challenge: How do you teach someone when she or he has no sense of language, no idea that objects have names?
A big breakthrough came when Sullivan pumped water over Helen’s hand and spelled the letters w-a-t-e-r on Helen’s palm. Suddenly, Helen understood that the liquid she felt on her hand had a name, water.
Soon she wanted to know the names of everything else around her.
With Sullivan’s help, Helen Keller learned to read and eventually went to Radcliffe College. She spent much of her life writing and speaking passionately on human rights issues.
In 1964 she was one of the first Americans to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.