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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Helen Keller

People around the world know the story of a young deaf-blind young girl who overcame so many obstacles with the help of her famous teacher. In honor of her 134th birthday on June 27th, here are a few things you might not know about the remarkable Helen Keller.

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1. She traveled the world.

Helen Keller took nine separate global tours spanning 39 countries on five continents. She met with several world leaders – including every single United States President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson – to advocate for the education and rights of the blind, deaf, and others living with disabilities.

2. She met celebrities.

Helen Keller met kings, queens, presidents, and prime ministers from all around the world. She also met people renowned here in the United States, including: Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and British silent movie star Charlie Chaplin.

3. She was a scholar.

With the help of her famous teacher Anne Sullivan, who spelled Helen’s text books letter by letter, into her hand, Helen Keller entered Radcliffe College at age 20. In just four years, she was the first deafblind student to graduate college – the next deafblind student wouldn't graduate for another 50 years.

4. She was a writer.

Helen Keller’s passport listed her occupation as “author.” Throughout her life, she wrote 14 books and more than 475 speeches and essays for prominent publications, many of which were about her life and what it was like living without vision or hearing. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was published when she was 23 years old, has been adapted for the screen and stage as “The Miracle Worker.”

5. She had a radical side.

Helen Keller was a passionate activist who supported many causes that were controversial during her lifetime. She was a champion for women’s rights, birth control, and ending child labor.

6. She helped make Braille the standard.

When Helen Keller was learning to read, there were more than five different raised print systems that were being used in books for the blind. Thanks to Helen Keller’s work on the first ever World Council for the Blind, Braille became the universal standard in 1918.

7. She founded a global nonprofit organization.

Helen Keller founded many organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Along with American businessman and Lusitania survivor George Kessler, she also co-founded the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind in 1915. In 1977, the organization changed its name to Helen Keller International (HKI) to commemorate Helen Keller, who died in 1968.

Helen Keller International still exists today and works to prevent blindness and malnutrition for millions of the world's most vulnerable people each year. In 2015, Helen Keller International will celebrate 100 years of saving sight and lives.

Learn more about Helen Keller International, and how you can keep Helen's legacy alive.

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