In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated the last week of June as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. Each year, the celebrations extend around the world, including national and state campaigns in the United States.
Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was an author, political activist, and lecturer. She campaigned women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other causes. After contracting an unknown illness in her childhood, Helen Keller completely lost both her vision and her hearing. By the age of 7, however, Helen Keller had more than 60 home signs to communicate with her family, and could even distinguish people by the vibration of her footsteps. Needless to say she went on to be a world-famous advocate for people with disabilities, widely impacting the deaf-blind community.
The National Family Association for Deaf-Blind is the largest national nonprofit organization that serves families of individuals who are deaf-blind. They help families find the best services for their loved ones, and strive to use Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week to increase awareness and support. One way that they work towards this mission is by highlighting families on their website so that others in a similar position know that they are not alone.
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan – the gifted teacher who worked closely with Helen to help teach her how to communicate – made great strides together for deaf-blind people across the world. Their work in the late 1800s helped to pave the way for the medical community, government, and public to better accept deaf-blind persons in all walks of life.
If they were with us now, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan would likely be very impressed by the progress that has been made in the hearing and vision fields – and especially, in our advancements in studying and improving human communication, regardless of physical disability.
There is still work to be done and everyone’s help is needed. If you are health care practitioner or in the health care field, you can lend a greater hand by helping continue to innovate the care that those with hearing or sight loss receive. And no matter who you are, you can spread awareness and celebrate Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week all week long!
You can read more about Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week by visiting HelenKeller.org.
Written By: Ashley Florscher
This blog post was written by a member of the eVero Outreach team. The Outreach program aims to teach individuals with disabilities marketable job skills, and enable them to find gainful employment. To learn more about eVero Outreach, click here.