Helen Keller was, for a time, the most famous handicapped person in the world. A severe fever at age 19 months left Keller blind and deaf and barely able to communicate. At age six Keller met Anne Sullivan (later Anne Sullivan Macy), the tutor who taught Keller the alphabet and thereby opened up the world to her. Keller became an excellent student and eventually attended Radcliffe College, where she graduated with honors in 1904. While at Radcliffe she wrote an autobiography, The Story of My Life (1902), which made her famous. (Her many later books included The World I Live In (1908), Out of the Dark (1913), and 1938’s Helen Keller’s Journal.) In later life Keller became an activist and lecturer, sometimes in support of the blind and deaf, and sometimes for causes including Socialism and women’s rights. She also founded and promoted the American Foundation for the Blind. During her lifetime Keller was regarded as one of America’s most inspirational figures.
Keller’s story was told in a 1957 television play, The Miracle Worker, which later became a Broadway play (1959) and then a 1962 film starring Anne Bancroft as Sullivan and Patty Duke as Keller; both Bancroft and Duke won Academy Awards for their work… Keller’s image appears on the quarter-dollar coin honoring Alabama, first released in 2003. According to the U.S. Mint, the coin is the first U.S. coin to feature braille.