Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!

June 19 is the designated day for Helen Keller Mythbusting

Image: A grey banner divided in three parts. A photo of a young Helen Keller is in the center. On the right, it reads “Political Activist. Radical Thinker. Suffragist. Pacifist. Journalist. Socialist. Who was she?” On the left it reads “Helen Keller Mythbusting Day 2010″

I first learnt about Helen Keller through a calendar book of sorts in which each day was marked with something of significance to the date. The item was illustrated by a blond girl at a waterpump, one hand pumping, the other hand under the rush of water. Her eyes were wide and looked rather bewildered and lost (she was also blonde and blue-eyed). I learned that she was blind and deaf, until her teacher taught her how to read and write through impressions on her hands. 

I did not know her teacher was also deaf blind until much later.

I only caught snippets about Helen Keller later, and saw a picture of the first story she typed up; I think it was a re-telling of Cinderella, but I can't say for sure now - I only know it was a famous fairytale. I remember being impressed that she could do that deaf and blind. I also saw a movie in which she was a character, touching a soldier's lips to hear him. 

Here's the thing, though, until Anne at FWD talked to me about Helen Keller Mythbusting Day, I didn't really think much about what else she had done in her life, besides being generally awesome in how she managed to live a full life while being deaf and blind. And then it was, wait, what?

What do you mean, Helen Keller was a political activist? A radical thinker? I knew she travelled and was a speaker, but I always assumed it was all about disability - obviously that would be her main concern in life! I visited her Wikipedia page, and lo, stuff I didn't know about this amazing woman.

I let her disability cloud my entire perception of her, and am thus ashamed, and now, I exhort ya'll who read my blog to hie on over to FWD's Blogswarm post, into which many links and discussions about Helen Keller, and other incredible women with disabilities, will be shared. Or, if you have some myths to bust about Helen Keller yourself, write a post and share! 

2 comments:

  1. (Thank you for the banner).

    Hi, Miss Sullivan was actually blind.

    (I don't know about the deafness. She did learn manual sign from Laura Bridgeman so she was able to communicate with her, and subsequently with Helen).

    Keller the speechmaker/rhetorician is an aspect of her character and occupation I have grown to appreciate over time.

    Joseph P. Lash writes a 180-degree theory about The Frost King. We accept that Miss Sullivan read it to Helen, but we've not been sure of the timing. He says she did it much more recently (within a year of the story being written for Mr Anagnos and his birthday which was in 1892).

    Dorothy Hellmann made me really think about who Helen Keller was as well. (She is another biographer and her book came out in 1998).

    It would be interesting to know more about how Keller is perceived in South-East Asia. I am reading about Keller and German culture just now.

    Which "movie as a character" did you see? I have known of several, like THE UNCONQUERED and DELIVERANCE and one my Maman told me about: HELEN KELLER IN HER STORY.

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  2. .... Wow, my typing skills = fail. And the keys aren't even right next to each other, so the typo is inexcusable. Thanks!

    I don't remember what movie it was, unfortunately. =( I was a very small child at the time. But now you've mentioned those, I'll have to look 'em up.

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