TIME publishing company has produced a terrific video on Helen Keller's role in disability history, "Co-Founding the ACLU, Fighting for Labor Rights and Other Helen Keller Accomplishments Students Don't Learn in School." The piece reflects upon Keller’s activism in the sphere of women’s rights, workers’ rights and civil rights—as well as her fierce advocacy for people with vision loss.
The video interviews academics and activists such as Professor Georgina Kleege, the author of Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller; Haben Girma, a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice; and Anita Cameron, a disability rights activist who made history in 1990 when she and many other activists from ADAPT crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building to demand the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. All three women reflect on how sighted and hearing people have written the histories of those with disabilities, and the need for people with disabilities to tell their own stories.
As AFB approaches its centennial in 2021, we are glad to have the Helen Keller Archive available to chart AFB's history and make the legacy of Helen Keller's ceaseless advocacy for people with disabilities and other marginalized communities fully accessible to all.
Helen Keller considered it a great privilege to be able to advocate for people with disabilities as a global ambassador for the American Foundation for the Blind. Keller used her platform to advocate for others who were under-represented and under-served — by helping to found the ACLU, being an early supporter of the NAACP, and lobbying for disability rights around the world.
She recognized the transformative power of education in her own life and advocated fiercely for access for all — a fight that AFB continues today with our research and advocacy into the impact of COVID-19 and inaccessible learning platforms on education for students who are blind or low vision.
AFB is extraordinarily proud to be the caretakers of Helen Keller’s legacy and to have digitized her papers, speeches, and writings and created accessible lesson plans that are freely available to all.
To read the article in its entirety and access a transcript of the video (including descriptions of the visual elements), please visit the TIME website.
Editor's note: Minor updates were made to this post on December 22, 2020.