Early childhood and illness
Born in the US in 1880, Helen Keller was struck blind and deaf by a mystery illness at 19 months. Though she had the basic ability to communicate using hand signals, her life was one of frustration at not being able to understand what was going on around her. She had no way of connecting an object with a word
until her instructor, Anne Sullivan, took over her teaching.
Sullivan’s problem was clear. How could she get Keller to understand that each thing in the world had a word signifying it?
The breakthrough came in a famous moment when Helen Keller connected the concept “water” that was being spelled on her hand with the water being run on her other hand. After that, she wore Sullivan out asking her for the words for the things around her.