Helen Keller is known for being the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama to parents Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams, and had two younger siblings, Mildred and Phillip. Keller was not born deaf-blind; she had hearing and sight up until the age of 19 months, when she contracted an illness that quickly left her without either. Until the age of 7, Keller communicated only in signs with her family at home. In 1887, however, a teacher, Anne Sullivan, arrived to help educate her, thus helping Keller to blossom into the intelligent, capable scholar she was throughout her adult life.
Keller's early education was at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, and the Horace Mann School for the Deaf. She then attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in preparation for her eventual admittance to Radcliffe College, the women's college associated with Harvard University. She graduated from Radcliffe in 1904.
After learning to speak, Keller spent a large portion of her life and career as a speaker and lecturer. She also became a world-famous author, notable for her autobiography, The Story of My Life, which she wrote during her time in college and published when she was 22. Keller was an advocate for people with disabilities, among other liberal causes. Additionally, she was a member of the Socialist Party and campaigned for workers' rights, and her political stance was often controversial among critics.
Keller was awarded numerous honors both in life and posthumously, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1965.