Hellen Keller’s Accomplishments Doubted

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Mei Salemi, Staff Writer

Helen Keller. Deaf, blind, and mute. She was the first deaf and blind human to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and her list of accomplishments only goes on. She published 12 books, cofounded Helen Keller International in 1915, and was a member of The Socialist Party. She was also a prominent supporter of women’s suffrage and their right to birth control, she was the cofounder of American Civil Liberties Union, attended Harvard, and donated money for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Moreover, she was a leading member of the American Foundation for the Blind, a preeminent speaker, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. She accomplished all of this, defying the odds against her. Keller lost her hearing and sight at just the age 19 months due to what today’s doctors speculate was scarlet fever or meningitis, according to an article written by the Perkins School for the Blind. 

However, as long as Helen Keller has been an icon, people have doubted her. Throughout her life, many have accused her of being a fraud and liar. These attacks on her good name had later subsided a bit, but suspicion has been reignited, particularly by Generation Z. Conspiracies have been circulating Tik Tok, a popular social media population for today’s youth. Teens on TikTok have been questioning whether Helen Keller truly accomplished all the achievements ascribed to her. Albeit, it is more difficult for Generation Z to believe everything they read and hear, growing up in a world where propaganda and half truths have become ubiquitous. 

As in the past and currently, people are theorizing that Anne Sulivan, Helen Keller’s teacher and close, lifelong friend, did most of Helen Keller’s work. The counterclaim says that people are merely creating these conspiracies to disparage Helen Keller’s work, as it is hard for the human mind to fathom that a deaf and blind woman could accomplish far more than the average person.

A popular doubt people share is whether Helen Keller flew a plane. Theorists claim that it would be impossible for her to do so due to her conditions. While it is unconventional at least for a blind, deaf, and speech disabled human to fly a plane, according to an article by the American Foundation for the Blind, AFB.org, Helen Keller piloted a plane for twenty minutes through instructions given to her by a longtime close friend, Polly Thompson. Helen Keller would communicate through fingerspelling on one’s palm after she learned the manual alphabet. 

Despite these baseless accusations, millions of people are still inspired by Helen Keller’s work and have faith that even with the most setbacks, one can accomplish anything they put their mind too.