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Born a healthy child in the late 1800s, as a toddler Helen Keller was struck by an illness that left her both deaf, blind and unable to speak. Advocated for by her mother, Keller struggled greatly with communication and was delayed in her education. But through the support of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, and with many accommodations, Keller was able to speak, complete a college education and even emerge as an author of dozens of books. She eventually became an advocate for education for those with disabilities, as well as for women’s suffrage and many other social causes. 

Helen Keller Day is here to honor not only the woman who overcame so much, but to celebrate all of those people who make it their life’s work to help and support the blind and deaf. 

History of Helen Keller Day

This event got its official start in the United States when it was first proclaimed in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time, the date was set for the third Thursday in March, which occurred on March 3, due to its connection with a celebration by the American Foundation for the Blind. This was in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first meeting between Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan – which Keller always considered to be her ‘spiritual birthday’.

Years later, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller in 1980, this event began to gain traction, and the date was changed to reflect the actual anniversary of Keller’s birth, which was on June 27, 1880. During this time, a proclamation by the mayor of New Jersey, as well as by US President Jimmy Carter, to honor Keller’s contributions and accomplishments. Later, Helen Keller Day was established through presidential proclamation and has been observed each year since.

How to Celebrate Helen Keller Day

Show some appreciation in honor of Helen Keller Day, participating with some of these ideas to get started:

Learn More About Helen Keller

Get more connected with this strong woman who overcame the odds by reading and learning more about her life. Perhaps start by reading one of autobiography, The Story of My Life, which was published in 1903. Or, for those who are more interested in watching films, consider a couple of different versions of The Miracle Worker (1962 and 2000), which feature the story of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller.

Attend the Helen Keller Day Fashion Show

This fund-raising event is named after Helen Keller and has been a popular go-to for many decades. The Luncheon and Fashion Show takes place in various locations in the eastern United States, organized by Friends of the Blind and benefitting a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the blind.

Other events throughout the year that can be celebrated related to this day include National ASL Day in April, International Day of Sign Languages in September, or Deaf Awareness Week in May. 

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