Helen Keller at the age of 19 months, (not quite 2 years old) was a happy,
healthy child. She was already saying a few words.
Then she had a high
fever which caused her to become deaf and blind. No longer could she see
nor hear. She felt lost. She would hang on to her mother's skirt to get
around. She would feel of people's hands to try to find out what they were
doing. She learned to do many things this way. She learned to milk a cow
and knead the bread dough.
She could recognize people by feeling of their faces or their clothes.
She made up signs with her hands so she could "talk" to her family. She
had 60 different signs. If she wanted bread, she pretended to be cutting a
loaf. If she wanted ice cream, she would hug her shoulders and shiver.
Helen was a very bright child. She became very frustrated* because she couldn't talk. She became very
angry and began to throw temper tantrums.*
The family knew they had to
do something to help her.
They found a teacher named Anne Sullivan. Miss Sullivan herself had been
blind, but had an operation and regained her sight. She understood
what Helen was feeling.
She taught Helen the signs for the letters of the alphabet. Then she
would "spell" the words in Helen's hand to communicate* with her.
Helen and her teacher Anne Sullivan
One day Anne led Helen to the water pump and pumped water on her hand.
She spelled the letters W-A-T-E-R as the water ran over Helen's hand.
She did this over and over again. At last it dawned on Helen that the
word "water" meant the water which she felt pouring over her hand. This opened
up a whole new world for her. She ran everywhere asking Anne the name
of different things and Anne would spell the words in her hand. This
was the key which unlocked the world for her.
She eventually stopped having the tantrums. Anne taught her for years.
Helen learned to read Braille.* This was a system of raised dots representing
letters. A blind person could read by feeling of the dots.
At biography.com search for Helen Keller. Scroll the panel for the "Video & Audio Results".
There are many deafblind people in the world. There are 22,000 in Japan alone.
Satoru Fukushima who lives in Japan lost his right eye's sight at age three, then
left at age nine. He also lost hearing when he was 18 years old. He
became a professor at the University of Tokyo Highly-Advanced Science and
Technology Research Center.
He and his mother invented the way to communicate by using fingers, the
fingering Braille. It works like a Braille typewriter. His mother or an
interpreter hit Satoru's finger the same way as typewriting.
(We say "Thank you" to a friend "chitoron" in Japan for sending us this information.)