April 5 Marks the Birth of Helen Keller's Soul
When Perkins teacher Anne Sullivan arrived in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on March 3, 1887, her student Helen Keller would later recall this time as the beginning of her rebirth, or as she said “[her] soul’s birthday.” The defining moment came one month later.
On April 5, 1887, Ms. Sullivan spelled W-A-T-E-R into Keller’s hand at the water pump by her Alabama home. Keller connected the spelling to the cool something pouring from the spout. Later she wrote:
“Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! … Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life.”
The rest is history.
In celebration of this momentous occasion, Perkins School for the Blind—which has developed a total communication philosophy utilizing communication methods through sign language, gestures, pictures, objects, Tadoma and speech, since educating extraordinary people like Keller and Laura Bridgman, who were both deafblind—honors Helen Keller on April 5 with a series of her breakthrough triumphs. All facts were furnished by Perkins School for the Blind research librarian Jan Seymour-Ford.