Determined to communicate with others as conventionally as possible, Keller learned to speak and spent much of her life giving speeches and lectures on aspects of her life.She learned to "hear" people's speech by reading their lips with her hands—her sense of touch had heightened.She had four siblings; two full siblings, Mildred Campbell (Keller) Tyson and Phillip Brooks Keller, and two older half-brothers from her father's prior marriage, James Mc Donald Keller and William Simpson Keller.
The story of Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was made famous by Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, and its adaptations for film and stage, The Miracle Worker.
Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, is now a museum and sponsors an annual "Helen Keller Day".
It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship during which Sullivan evolved into Keller's governess and eventually her companion.
Sullivan immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with "d-o-l-l" for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present.
I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand.
The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, set it free!Keller reflected on this irony in her first autobiography, stating "that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his." In 1886, Keller's mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens' American Notes of the successful education of another deaf and blind woman, Laura Bridgman, dispatched the young Keller, accompanied by her father, to seek out physician J.Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice.She became proficient at using braille and reading sign language with her hands as well.Shortly before World War I, with the assistance of the Zoellner Quartet, she determined that by placing her fingertips on a resonant tabletop she could experience music played close by.Her June 27 birthday is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania and, in the centenary year of her birth, was recognized by a presidential proclamation from Jimmy Carter.A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled and outspoken in her convictions.In May 1888, Keller started attending the Perkins Institute for the Blind.In 1894, Keller and Sullivan moved to New York to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, and to learn from Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf.In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.She maintained a correspondence with the Austrian philosopher and pedagogue Wilhelm Jerusalem, who was one of the first to discover her literary talent.