Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


5 Inspiring Life Lessons We Can Learn From Helen Keller

by Alyson Asia Clay

Helen Keller was just one small girl out of millions, who grew up to inspire millions more. At 19 months old, she lost her sight and hearing, and as a consequence became speech-impaired as well.

Her success story has become a lasting symbol for overcoming adversity. Helen Keller persevered to create color and music in her life that was once dark and silent. What does her story mean for the rest of us? Below are a few things we can learn from her.

Find other ways to grow

Helen Keller didn’t let her disabilities stop her from thriving in an able-bodied society and instead sought out avenues for growth. She attended the Perkins Institution, where they specialize in aiding blind children, and started out with techniques by Samuel Gridley Howe, the first director at the Boston-area school, before moving on to Braille and Tadoma.

Keller is a testimony that differences are not to be given up on. Every student has the potential to learn, even disabled or neurodivergent learners, and the development of learning theories like behaviorism or constructivism is only the beginning to creating an inclusive society for each person.

Don’t be afraid to share your story

Keller’s disabilities didn’t stop her from getting educated and breaking the silence about the experiences of the deaf and blind trying to navigate the world. She would write about her sensory experiences with a “world I live in” theme, across all available media. Compared to today, these avenues weren’t much, but in the 1900s, magazine columns and books or poetry were as extensive as sharing can be.

In the 21st century, more readers can do the same thanks to how technology has made communication easier. Additional tools like the Internet have also further provided people with platforms on a national and global scale. Writing about your professional story and posting it online through a website is one of the best ways you can share about your work and history to a wider audience. Online communities like social media in particular are highly accessible, and important tools for underrepresented communities.

Disabilities are not limitations

Keller certainly didn’t allow her disabilities to stop her from learning more about the world. The fact that she is widely regarded today is a testament to how disabilities do not hinder success. Another famous example of this is Stephen Hawking who developed ALS at an early age. Despite his extremely difficult life he produced some of the most important scientific works of the 20th century.

Experience is what’s important

Keller claims that “life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” Challenges are part of life, and we wouldn’t progress as a species otherwise. Take the efforts to increase website accessibility on the Internet as an example.

Inventions like speech recognition software allow users to navigate websites using their voice. Policy makers are also working towards regulating websites to be user-friendly for all. Active steps are key in lessening the “digital divide” and collective efforts can continue to make this possible.

Go after your dreams

We already know that self-imposed limitations adopted from society aren’t the glass ceiling. Despite the Oscar-winning 1962 movie on Helen Keller being titled The Miracle Worker, what happened with her wasn’t a miracle; it was the result of decades of hard work. Keller took her life in her own hands and even then, shaped the future of society.

Even without sight, Helen Keller had a vision. It was only by chasing this that hers became an extraordinary story — and yours could, too. For another inspiring story do read this post on being disabled by Trish Hubschman.

About the Author

Alyson Asia Clay is a freelance writer with a passion for inspiring stories. It is her mission in life to share these stories in the hope that they inspire others. In her free time she loves to hike.

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Recovering The Self is a forum for people to tell their stories. Individual contributors accept complete responsibility for the veracity, accuracy, and non-infringement of their reporting.
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