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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Transcript: Launching the AFB Helen Keller Archive

Voice-over:
"The launch of the Helen Keller Archive presented by the American Foundation for the Blind. Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss. "

Voice-over with wide still shot of students and presenter in classroom:
"A classroom with twelve fifth graders who are blind or visually impaired, are seated in front of personal computers while a woman standing at the front of the room is speaking to them and asking them questions. "

Helen Selsdon speaking to the students:
"My name is Helen Selsdon. I’m the archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind, and I’m in charge of Helen Keller’s archive. An enormous archive. I’m also in charge of digitizing all her materials."

Helen Selsdon Interview:
"Today we’re at the New York Institute for Special Education and the students who are ten to twelve years of age are looking at the digital site. They’re learning about Helen. They’re learning how to navigate the digital site using their own assistive technology."

Helen Selsdon asks students:
"What kinds of things can an archive contain?"

Students reply:
"Pictures, their biography, things that they’ve touched or items that they were fond of. Their personal items."
"Right, their personal items."

Viewer sees Helen Keller items on display while Helen Selsdon, off-camera, describes the archive:
"The Helen Keller Archive is a collection of documents, photographs, artifacts. It’s everything to do with Helen Keller and her life. It’s all the materials that were generated throughout her life."

Helen Selsdon Interview:
"Few archival collections have the ability to sort of illuminate history in the way that Helen Keller’s archive can. The history certainly of disabilities, but also the cultural, political and social history of the nation from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century."
"You can really see how hard it was to change attitudes and legislation to better the lives of those with vision loss."

Helen Selsdon with the class:
"What’s special about this digital archive? We’ve made it so that if you can’t see or can’t hear or can’t see and hear, you can also access it. So we think, we’re almost positive it’s the most accessible archive currently anywhere in the world."

Helen Selsdon Interview:
"It’s a way of kids, especially with disabilities to independently research the past and someone who is very important to their past."

Helen Selsdon with the class:
"Are there any things that really struck you that you found super interesting about Helen? "
"Her pets."
"Her pets? Cool, she had loads of dogs. She had like twenty dogs in her life time."

Wani Miguel Interview:
"Helen Keller means the world to blind, visually impaired or deaf people. Because she fought for our rights. She helped us to be like everybody else."

Nestor Alfonso Interview:
"I got to see letters that she wrote to other people. I got to learn what happened in her life, and all the people that she wrote letters to."

Helen Selsdon Interview:
"We’re delighted that the National Endowment for the Humanities and American Express are both supporting this, but we still need more funding to keep going, and if anyone wishes to donate and support the project, maybe in honor of a wonderful teacher they’ve had, then do go online. You can go to A-F-B dot O-R-G forward slash HelenKellerArchive and donate in honor of somebody. It’s a major project and Helen is inspiring and we hope that she will inspire many others."

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