In 1882 a baby girl caught a fever that was so fierce she nearly died. She survived but the fever left its mark — she could no longer see or hear. Because she could not hear she also found it very difficult to speak.
So how did this child, blinded and deafened1 at 19 months old, grow up to become a world-famous author and public speaker?
The fever cut her off from the outside world, depriving2 her of sight and sound. It was as if she had been thrown into a dark prison cell from which there could be no release.
Luckily Helen was not someone who gave up easily. Soon she began to explore the world by using her other senses. She followed her mother wherever she went, hanging onto her skirts, She touched and smelled everything she came across. She copied their actions and was soon able to do certain jobs herself, like milking the cows or kneading dough3, She even learnt to recognize people by feeling their faces or their clothes. She could also tell where she was in the garden by the smell of the different plants and the feel of the ground under her feet.
By the age of seven she had invented over 60 different signs by which she could talk to her family, If she wanted bread for example, she would pretend to cut a loaf and butter the slices. If she wanted ice cream she wrapped her arms around herself and pretended to shiver.
Helen was unusual in that she was extremely intelligent and also remarkably4 sensitive. By her own efforts she had managed to make some sense of an alien and confusing world. But even so she had limitations.
At the age of five Helen began to realize she was different from other people. She noticed that her family did not use signs like she did but talked with their mouths. Sometimes she stood between two people and touched their lips. She could not understand what they said and she could not make any meaningful sounds herself. She wanted to talk but no matter how she tried she could not make herself understood. This make her so angry that she used to hurl5 herself around the room, kicking and screaming in frustration6.
As she got older her frustration grew and her rages became worse and worse. She became wild and unruly . If she didn't get what she wanted she would throw tantrums until her family gave in. Her favourite tricks included grabbing7 other people's food from their plates and hurling8 fragile9 objects to the floor. Once she even managed to lock her mother into the pantry. Eventually it became clear that something had to be done. So, just before her seventh birthday, the family hired a private tutor — Anne Sullivan.
Anne was careful to teach Helen especially those subjects in which she was interested. As a result Helen became gentler and she soon learnt to read and write in Braille. She also learnt to read people's lips by pressing her finger-tips against them and feeling the movement and vibrations10. This method is called Tadoma and it is a skill that very, very few people manage to acquire. She also learnt to speak, a major achievement for someone who could not hear at all.
Helen proved to be a remarkable11 scholar, graduating with honours from Radcliffe College in 1904. She had phenomenal powers of concentration and memory, as well as a dogged determination to succeed. While she was still at college she wrote ‘The Story of My Life'. This was an immediate12 success and earned her enough money to buy her own house.
She toured the country, giving lecture after lecture. Many books were written about her and several plays and films were made about her life. Eventually she became so famous that she was invited abroad and received many honours from foreign universities and monarchs13. In 1932 she became a vice-president of the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom.
After her death in 1968 an organization was set up in her name to combat14 blindness in the developing world. Today that agency, Helen Keller International, is one of the biggest organizations working with blind people overseas. 1882年，一名女婴因高发烧差点丧命。她虽幸免于难，但发烧给她留下了后遗症—— 她再也看不见、听不见。因为听不见，她想讲话也变得很困难。 那么这样一个在19个月时就既盲又聋的孩子，是如何成长为享誉世界的作家和演说家的呢？ 高烧将她与外界隔开，使她失去了视力和声音。她仿佛置身在黑暗的牢笼中无法摆脱。 万幸的是海伦并不是个轻易认输的人。不久她就开始利用其它的感官来探查这个世界了。她跟着母亲，拉着母亲的衣角，形影不离。她去触摸，去嗅各种她碰到的物品。她模仿别人的动作且很快就能自己做一些事情，例如挤牛奶或揉面。她甚至学会*摸别人的脸或衣服来识别对方。她还能*闻不同的植物和触摸地面来辨别自己在花园的位置。 七岁的时候她发明了60多种不同的手势，*此得以和家里人交流。比如她若想要面包，就会做出切面包和涂黄油的动作。想要冰淇淋时她会用手裹住自己装出发抖的样子。 海伦在这方面非比一般，她绝顶的聪明又相当敏感。通过努力她对这个陌生且迷惑的世界有了一些知识。但她仍有一些有足。 海伦五岁时开始意识到她与别人不同。她发现家里的其他人不用象她那样做手势而是用嘴交谈。有时她站在两人中间触摸他们的嘴唇。她不知道他们在说什么，而她自己不能发出带有含义的声音。她想讲话，可无论费多大的劲儿也无法使别人明白自己。这使她异常懊恼以至于常常在屋子里乱跑乱撞，灰心地又踢又喊。 随着年龄的增长她的怒气越为越大。她变得狂野不驯。倘若她得不到想要的东西就会大发脾气直到家人顺从。她惯用的手段包括抓别人盘里的食物以及将易碎的东西猛扔在地。有一次她甚至将母亲锁在厨房里。这样一来就得想个办法了。于是，在她快到七岁生日时，家里便雇了一名家庭教师 —— 安尼·沙利文。 安尼悉心地教授海伦，特别是她感兴趣的东西。这样海伦变得温和了而且很快学会了用布莱叶盲文朗读和写作。*用手指接触说话人的嘴唇去感受运动和震动，她又学会了触唇意识。这种方法被称作泰德马，是一种很少有人掌握的技能。她也学会了讲话，这对失聪的人来说是个巨大的成就。 海伦证明了自己是个出色的学者，1904年她以优异的成绩从拉德克利夫学院毕业。她有惊人的注意力和记忆力，同时她还具有不达目的誓不罢休的毅力。上大学时她就写了《我的生命》。这使她取得了巨大的成功从而有能力为自己购买一套(性生活细节)住房。 她周游全国，不断地举行讲座。她的事迹为许多人著书立说而且还上演了关于她的生平的戏剧和电影。最终她声名显赫，应邀出国并受到外国大学和国王授予的荣誉。1932年，她成为英国皇家国立盲人学院的副校长。 1968年她去世后，一个以她的名字命名的组织建立起来，该组织旨在与发展中国家存在的失明缺陷做斗争。如今这所机构，“国际海伦·凯勒”，是海外向盲人提供帮助的最大组织之一。