In Pennsylvania, June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day. Helen Keller was an American author, lecturer and political activist. She is noted for being the first deafblind person to earn a B.A. degree.
Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880. She lost her ability to see and hear at 19 months old due to an illness (either meningitis or scarlet fever). In 1886, Keller’s mother started looking for a person who could educate her daughter. Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired, agreed to become Keller’s instructor.
Keller attended several schools for the blind and deaf. At age 20, she was admitted to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated in 1904, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a B.A. degree.
Keller learned to speak and spent much of her life giving lectures and speeches. She was an avid advocate of people with disabilities. In 1915, she founded Helen Keller International, an organization devoted to research in vision, nutrition and health.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter authorized Helen Keller Day at the federal level to commemorate the centennial of Keller’s birth. That year, the United States Postal service issued a special stamp depicting Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan.
Stories of brave individuals battling seemingly insurmountable odds fire our imagination and pride as human beings. So it is with the remarkable life of Helen Keller. Her incredible fight against, and eventual triumph over, the multiple handicaps of deafness and blindness made her a world-famous symbol of hope for all handicapped people.
Today we honor the 100th anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth. In so doing, we honor also the patience and understanding of her devoted teacher Anne Sullivan. Helen Keller refused to let her handicaps cut her off from a life of usefulness and service to others. Through her own determination and faith, she was able to develop and use her talents and demonstrate how much even the most severely handicapped individual can accomplish when proper training and rehabilitation opportunities are provided.
As a mark of respect for her achievements, the Congress, by joint resolution, has authorized the President to proclaim June 27, 1980, as “HELEN KELLER DAY”.
Now, Therefore, I, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate June 27, 1980, as
“HELEN KELLER DAY”. I urge all appropriate Federal departments and agencies to foster the recognition of Helen Keller’s achievements on that day with ceremonies, programs, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourth.