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Deaf-Blind Awareness Week

June 27, 2000, is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, and each year the week in which her birthday falls is recognized as Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. In honor of Helen Keller -- and other members of the deaf-blind community -- Education World looks at some noteworthy Web sites dedicated to the topic of deaf-blindness.

The story of Helen Keller is well known. Born on June 27, 1880, the healthy infant was developing normally. But at the age of 19 months, an illness left her deaf and blind. When Helen was six, her equally famous teacher, Anne Sullivan, was able to teach her to communicate. Helen Keller went on to excel in all aspects of her life: graduating from college with honors and writing, lecturing, and inspiring people worldwide.

Each year, the calendar week in which Keller's birthday falls is recognized as Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. In honor of Helen Keller and all those who deal with dual-sensory impairment -- or deaf-blindness, as the condition is also called -- Education World looks at some Web sites that are informative, useful, and inspiring.

  1. The Life of Helen Keller: An American Hero
    Check this site for a complete, yet concise, biographical sketch of Helen Keller.

  2. Helen Keller Archival Collection -- American Foundation for the Blind
    In her will, Helen Keller bequeathed her papers and memorabilia to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). The Helen Keller Archival Collection contains The Helen Keller Papers, The Helen Keller Artifacts and Memorabilia Collection, The Helen Keller Photograph Collection, and Books from Helen Keller's Library. Of particular interest are Keller's writings on a variety of topics that illustrate her intelligence, her positive disposition, and her passion for worthwhile social issues. For more general information, follow the link to the AFB homepage American Foundation for the Blind ( for additional blindness resources.

  3. Learning Guide to "The Miracle Worker"
    An excellent way to introduce the life of Helen Keller to students is with the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, which relates how Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, was able to reach Keller and teach her how to communicate. This site, which recommends the film for children ages ten and up, offers background on the historical context of the film, provides numerous examples of discussion and essay questions, and recommends several books about Helen Keller and the triumph of other individuals over their disabilities.

  4. A-Z to Deafblindness
    This very complete Web site is the work of James Gallagher, a citizen of the United Kingdom who is deaf-blind. Here, you will find information about all aspects of deaf-blindness, including the deaf-blind manual alphabet, the various causes of deaf-blindness, contact information for various support organizations, and dates and times for conferences. Gallagher also includes information on deafness, including the two-handed manual alphabet commonly used by sighted deaf people in the U.K., the cochlear implant, and a description of American Sign Language. Some of the topics related to blindness include information on guide dogs and a comparison of Braille and Moon-a lesser-known alternate reading method for the blind. Of particular interest are the sections that discuss various technological devices that aid deaf-blind people in utilizing computers, telephones, and fax machines.

  5. Deafblind Children Homepage
    This site contains several stories, written by parents of deaf-blind children, illustrating the wide range of causes, degrees of impairment, and coping strategies that surround the issue of deaf-blindness.


  • Helen Keller Birthplace
    This is the Web site for Ivy Green, the Alabama plantation of the Keller family. Included are photographs of the main house where Helen Keller was born and a brief biography of Keller's early years.

  • A Deafblindness Web Resource
    This Web site is the place to start researching all aspects of deafness, blindness, and deaf-blindness. From conference and convention dates to methods of surfing the Net, from selected books to selected Web sites, the information is useful, complete, and updated frequently.

  • Deaf World Web
    This site has is a good source for useful information, including different programs and services for the deaf -- information by state, creative works by deaf artists and writers, and discussion questions and answers on topics of interest to the deaf community, such as cochlear implants. Of particular interest is a sign language dictionary, with more than 2,800 signs illustrated.

Lauren P. Gattilia
Education World®
Copyright © 2000 Education World

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