Blind and deaf at birth, Helen Keller became a pioneer in the field of disability rights. She is regarded as an inspirational figure and her writings and speeches cover issues such as faith, hope and love.
Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, she was stricken with an illness at the age of 19 months. She lost her sight and her hearing, and she was unable to communicate with her family.
Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, worked with her to improve her language skills. She helped her learn touch-lip reading, Braille, speech and typing.
Sullivan also taught her the letters of the alphabet. In an evocative scene, Sullivan took Keller to a water pump and placed her hand under the spout while she spelled out water into her other hand.
With Sullivan's help, she learned to read the letters and eventually mastered the entire alphabet. Sullivan also taught her how to talk, by resting her hand on her lips to feel the sound vibrations that made her lips move.
After a year of learning to read and speak, Keller was able to write her own letters on paper. This was a life-changing event for her and Annie.
She began to write for women's magazines about her experience, a subject that was taboo in those days because of the close link between blindness and venereal disease. Her work earned her numerous awards and she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. She died in 1968, but her name remains an inspiration to people around the world.