When the general population thinks of blindness, they often still think of young Helen Keller learning to communicate with sign language at the water pump. There is, however, much more to Ms. Keller.
Helen Keller worked as a political and social activist, fighting for a woman’s right to vote and for equality for all people. She worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for over 40 years as an advocate for the blind in the United States and abroad. Read her biography to learn more! Not only will you learn about her life as a child and as an adult, you’ll see how her life’s work continues to impact people with visual impairments.
There is no better way to commemorate her life than challenging our children with visual impairments to build their skills while learning about her life during the month of June. Here are a few ideas:
Sign Language and Alternative Communication
There are various methods people who are deaf-blind use to communicate, due to their varying levels of vision and hearing. Challenge your child with blindfolded finger spelling on the palm. It is a double win if you make it a game and use some of your child’s summer vocabulary or sight words.
Birthday Cake for Helen Keller
Preparing a cake can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I personally vote for moderate effort, and I would make a cake from a box and a can of frosting. You and your child can practice measuring wet ingredients, cracking eggs, pouring ingredients, mixing, setting the oven, greasing the pan, using optical devices to read the recipe on the box, spreading frosting, and maybe most importantly, setting a timer.
Utilize AFB’s basic tips for measuring and baking.
Reading Print or Braille
“More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free” —Helen Keller Midstream, 1930.
There are numerous novels about Helen Keller’s life available in braille or print or both. Your child may enjoy the Braille Bug Reading Club and can join a discussion of the featured book Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures. An older child may enjoy writing an Amazon review after reading one of the numerous titles about her life.
Utilizing Assistive Technology
Instead of insisting our children put down their tablets, we could encourage them to use their device of choice to do some research on Helen Keller’s life. Young children can explore AFB’s Helen Keller Online Museum. Older children can create a PowerPoint presentation for the family on Helen Keller.
Helen Keller published 12 books and wrote numerous publications. Challenge your child to keep a journal for the month of June. You can suggest writing prompts each day; young children can scribble with a bold-line marker or braille writer or can dictate to you.
There is no limit to the possibilities for celebrating Helen Keller’s Birthday and the accomplishments of her life. Feel free to share ideas.
Learn More About Helen Keller
Helen Keller Biography and Chronology
A Trip to NYC Meant a Moment with Helen Keller
Helen Keller Online Kids Museum