Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Helen Keller

Helen Adams Keller was born on 27 June, 1880 at an estate called Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama and died on 1 June, 1968 in her sleep, passing away 26 days before her 88th birthday, at her home in Arcan Ridge near Westport, Connecticut. A service was held in her honor at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and her ashes were placed there next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.

Helen Keller was an American author, activist and lecturer. Helen Keller was the first deafblind person to graduate from college.

The story of how Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic depictions of the play The Miracle Worker.

What is less well known is how Helen Keller’s life developed after she completed her education. A prolific author, she was well traveled, and was outspoken in her opposition to war. Helen Keller campaigned for women’s suffrage, workers’ rights and socialism, as well as many other progressive causes.

Helen Keller was born to Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, a cousin of Robert E. Lee and daughter of Charles W. Adams, a former Confederate general. The Keller family originates from Germany, and at least one source claims her father was of Swiss descent. Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf; it was not until 19 months of age that she came down with an illness described by doctors as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain”, which could have possibly been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. At that time her only communication partner was Martha Washington, the 6 year old daughter of the family cook, who was able to create a sign language with her; by the age of 7, she had over 60 home signs to communicate with her family.

In his doctoral dissertation, “Deaf-blind Children (psychological development in a process of education)” (1971, Moscow Defectology Institute), Soviet blind-deaf psychologist Meshcheryakov asserted that Washington’s friendship and teaching was crucial for Helen Keller’s later developments.

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan in 1898 In 1886, her mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens’ American Notes of the successful education of another deafblind child, Laura Bridgman, dispatched young Helen Keller, accompanied by her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. Dr J. Julian Chisolm, subsequently, put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Alexander Graham Belll advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston. The school delegated teacher and former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Helen Keller’s instructor.
It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, eventually evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

Anne Sullivan got permission from Helen Keller’s father to isolate the girl from the rest of the family in a little house in their garden. Anne Sullivan loved Helen Keller dearly and loved her like she was her child. Anne Sullivan’s first task was to instill discipline in the spoiled girl. Helen Keller’s big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her hand, symbolized the idea of “water”; she then nearly exhausted Anne Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world (including her prized doll).

In 1890, 10 year old Helen Keller was introduced to the story of Ragnhild Kåta, a deafblind Norwegian girl who had learned to speak. Ragnhild Kåta’s success inspired Helen Keller to want to learn to speak as well. Anne Sullivan taught her charge to speak using the Tadoma method of touching the lips and throat of others as they speak, combined with fingerspelling letters on the palm of the child’s hand. Later Helen Keller learned Braille, and used it to read not only English but also French, German, Greek, and Latin. Later she wrote 2 books and acted in a movie.

In 1888, Helen Keller attended the Royal Institute For the Blind. In 1894, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan moved to New York City to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In 1896, they returned to Massachusetts and Helen Keller entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliffe College. Helen Keller’s admirer Mark Twain had introduced her to Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleton Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for her education. In 1904, at the age of 24, Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Anne Sullivan married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914. Polly Thompson was hired to keep house. Polly Thompson was a young woman from Scotland who didn’t have experience with deaf or blind people. Polly Thompson progressed to working as a secretary as well, and eventually became a constant companion to Helen Keller.

After Anne Sullivan died in 1936, Helen Keller and Polly Thompson moved to Connecticut. They travelled worldwide raising funding for the blind. Polly Thompson had a stroke in 1957 from which she never fully recovered, and died in 1960.

Winnie Corbally, a nurse who was originally brought in to care for Polly Thompson in 1957, stayed on after Polly Thompson’s death and was Helen Keller’s companion for the rest of her life.

Helen Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. Helen Keller is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. Helen Keller was a suffragist, a pacifist, a Wilson opposer, a radical socialist, and a birth control supporter. In 1915, Helen Keller and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920, she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan traveled to over 39 countries, making several trips to Japan and becoming a favorite of the Japanese people. Helen Keller met every US President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson and was friends with many famous figures, including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain.

Helen Keller was a member of the Socialist Party and actively campaigned and wrote in support of the working classes from 1909 to 1921. Helen Keller supported Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs in each of his campaigns for the presidency. Newspaper columnists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she expressed her socialist views now called attention to her disabilities. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that her “mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.” Helen Keller responded to that editor, referring to having met him before he knew of her political views:

“ At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him…Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.”

Helen Keller joined the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or the Wobblies) in 1912, saying that parliamentary socialism was “sinking in the political bog.” Helen Keller wrote for the IWW between 1916 and 1918. In Why I Became an IWW, Helen Keller explained that her motivation for activism came in part from her concern about blindness and other disabilities:

“ I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers, and the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness. ”

The last sentence refers to prostitution and syphilis, the latter a leading cause of blindness.

Helen Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals in the socio-political context present in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.

One of Helen Keller’s earliest pieces of writing, at the age of 11, was The Frost King (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from The Frost Fairies by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Helen Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby’s story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious.

At the age of 23, Helen Keller published her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903), with help from Anne Sullivan and Anne Sullivan’s husband, John Macy. It includes letters that Helen Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.

Helen Keller wrote “The World I Live In” in 1908 giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world. “Out of the Dark”, a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.

Helen Keller’s spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and re-issued as Light in my Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the controversial mystic who gives a spiritual interpretation of the Last Judgment and second coming of Jesus Christ, and the movement named after him, Swedenborgianism.

In total Helen Keller wrote 12 books and numerous articles.

When Helen Keller visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July 1937, she inquired about Hachikō, the famed Akita dog that had died in 1935. Helen Keller told a Japanese person that she would like to have an Akita dog; one was given to her within a month, with the name of Kamikaze-go. When he died of canine distemper, his older brother, Kenzan-go, was presented to her as an official gift from the Japanese government in July 1939. Helen Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to the United States through these 2 dogs. By 1938 a breed standard had been established and dog shows had been held, but such activities stopped after World War II began. Helen Keller wrote in the Akita
Journal:

“ If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me — he is gentle, companionable and trusty. ”

Helen Keller suffered a series of strokes in 1961 and spent the last years of her life at her home.

On 14 September, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States’ highest 2 civilian honors. In 1965 she was elected to the Women’s Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair.

Helen Keller devoted much of her later life to raise funds for the American Foundation for the Blind.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Pete Townshend

Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on 19 May 1945 in Chiswick, London. Pete Townshend is an award-winning English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and writer, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for The Who, as well as for his own solo career. Pete Townshend’s career with The Who spans more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential bands of the rock era, in addition to being “possibly the greatest live band ever.

Pete Townshend is the primary songwriter for the Who, writing well over 100 songs for the band’s 11 studio albums, including the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds and Sods. Pete has also written over 100 songs for his solo albums and rarities compilations. Although known mainly for being a guitarist, he is also an accomplished singer and keyboard player, and has played many other instruments on his solo albums, and on some Who albums (such as banjo, accordion, synthesizer, piano, bass guitar, drums).

Pete has also written newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books, and scripts.

Born into a musical family (his father Cliff Townshend was a professional saxophonist in The Squadronaires and his mother Betty a singer), Pete Townshend exhibited a fascination with music at an early age. Pete Townshend had early exposure to American Rock and Roll (his mother recounts that he repeatedly saw the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock and obtained his first guitar from his grandmother at the age of 12, which he described as a “Cheap Spanish thing”. Townshend’s biggest guitar influences include Link Wray, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Hank Marvin of The Shadows. 

In 1961Pete Townshend enrolled at Ealing Art College, and a year later he and his school friend from Acton County Grammar School John Entwistle founded their first band, The Confederates, a Dixieland duet featuring Pete Townshend on banjo and Entwistle on horn. From this beginning they moved on to The Detours, a skiffle/rock and roll band fronted by then sheet-metal welder Roger Daltrey. In early 1964, due to another band having the same name, The Detours renamed themselves The Who. Drummer Doug Sandom was replaced by Keith Moon not long afterwards. The band (now comprising Daltrey on vocals and harmonica, Pete Townshend on guitar, Entwistle on bass, and Moon on drums) were soon taken on by a mod publicist (named Peter Meaden) who convinced them to change their name to The High Numbers to give the band more of a mod feel. After bringing out one single (“Zoot Suit”), they dropped Meaden and were signed on by two new managers, Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert. They dropped The High Numbers name and reverted to The Who.

Pete Townshend met Karen Astley (daughter of composer Ted Astley) while in art school and married her in 1968. The couple separated in 1994 and Pete Townshend announced they would divorce in 2000. They have 3 children Emma born in 1969, who is a singer/songwriter, Aminta born in 1971 and Joseph born in 1989. For many years Pete Townshend refused to confirm or deny rumors that he was bisexual. In a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, however, he explained that, although he engaged in some brief same-sex experimentation in the 1960s, he is hetrosexual. Pete Townshend currently lives with his long-time partner, musician Rachel Fuller, in Richmond, England. Pete Townshend also owns a house in Churt, Surrey, England.

Pete Townshend has woven a long history of involvement with various charities and other philanthropic efforts throughout his career, both as a solo artist and with The Who. Pete’s  first solo concert, for example, was a 1974 benefit show which was organized to raise funds for the Camden Square Community Play Center.

The earliest public example of Pete Townshend’s involvement with charitable causes is the relationship he established with the Richmond-based Meher Baba Association. In 1968, Pete Townshend donated the use of his former Wardour Street apartment to the Meher Baba Association. The following year, the association was moved to another Townshend-owned apartment, the Eccleston Square former residence of wife Karen.

Pete Townshend sat on a committee which oversaw the operation and finances of the center. “The committee sees to it that it is open a couple of days a week, and keeps the bills paid and the library full,” he wrote in a 1970 Rolling Stone article.

In 1969 and 1972 Pete Townshend produced 2 limited-release albums, Happy Birthday and I Am, for the London-based Baba association. This led to 1972’s Who Came First, a more widespread release, 15 percent of the revenue of which went to the Baba association. A further limited release, With Love, was released in 1976. A limited-edition boxed set of all 3 limited releases on CD, Avatar, was released in 2000, with all profits going to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust in India, which provided funds to a dispensary, school, hospital and pilgrimage center.

In July 1976, Pete Townshend opened Meher Baba Oceanic, a London activity centre for Baba followers which featured film dubbing and editing facilities, a cinema and a recording studio. In addition, the centre served as a regular meeting place for Baba followers. Pete Townshend offered very economical (reportedly £1 per night) lodging for American Baba followers who needed an overnight stay on their pilgrimages to India. “For a few years, I had toyed with the idea of opening a London house dedicated to Meher Baba,” he wrote in a 1977 Rolling Stone article. “In the 8 years I had followed him, I had donated only coppers to foundations set up around the world to carry out the Master’s wishes and decided it was about time I put myself on the line. The Who had set up a strong charitable trust of its own which appeased, to an extent, the feeling I had that Meher Baba would rather have seen me give to the poor than to the establishment of yet another so-called ‘spiritual center’.”

Pete Townshend also embarked on a project dedicated to the collection, restoration and maintenance of Meher Baba-related films. The project was known as MEFA, or Meher Baba European Film Archive.

Pete Townshend has been an active champion of children’s charities. The debut of Pete Townshend’s stage version of Tommy  took place at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in July 1992. The show was earmarked as a benefit for the London-based Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, an organization which helps autistic and retarded children.

Pete Townshend performed at a 1995 benefit organized by Paul Simon at Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theatre, for The Children’s Health Fund. The following year, Pete Townshend performed at a benefit for the Bridge School, a California facility for children with severe speech and physical impairments. In 1997, Pete Townshend established a relationship with Maryville Academy, a Chicago area children’s charity. Between 1997 and 2002, Pete Townshend played 5 benefit shows for Maryville Academy, raising at least $1,600,000. In addition, proceeds from the sales of his 1999 release Pete Townshend Live were also donated to Maryville Academy.

As a member of The Who, Pete Townshend has also performed a series of concerts, beginning in 2000, benefitting the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK, raising several million pounds. In 2005, Pete Townshend performed at New York’s Gotham Hall for Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, an annual children’s charity fundraiser.

The Who rocker Pete Townshend is losing his hearing, and fears the disability will end his songwriting career. Pete Townshend blames his hearing loss on a lifetime spent using headphones, experts say today’s iPod Generation is storing up trouble for the future by listening to music at high volumes.

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What is Hearing Impairment?

A hearing impairment or hearing loss is a full or partial decrease in the ability to detect or understand sounds.

A hearing impairment exists when an individual is not sensitive to the sounds normally heard by its kind. In human beings, the term hearing impairment is usually reserved for people who have relative insensitivity to sound in the speech frequencies.

Hearing loss can be inherited. Both dominant and recessive genes exist which can cause mild to profound impairment. If a family has a dominant gene for deafness it will persist across generations because it will manifest itself in the offspring even if it is inherited from only one parent.

People who are hard of hearing have varying amounts of hearing loss but usually not enough to be considered deaf. Many people who are deaf consider spoken language their primary language and consider themselves “hard of hearing”.

People with unilateral hearing loss (single sided deafness/SSD) can hear normally in one ear, but have trouble hearing out of the other ear. Problems with this type of deficit is inability to localize sounds.

Those who lose their hearing later in life, such as in late adolescence or adulthood, face their own challenges. For example, they must adjust to living with the adaptations that make it possible for them to live independently. They may have to adapt to using hearing aids or a cochlear implant, develop speech-reading skills, and/or learn sign language.

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