AFB Applauds Senate Approval of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act

June 28, 2018
Mark Richert, AFB's Director of Public Policy A hearty kudos to the United States Senate for ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty—unanimously, I might add—and passing its implementing legislation, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559), which aims to facilitate access to materials in a specialized format to eligible individuals, including and especially individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It has been the longstanding belief of the American Foundation for the Blind that…

Helen Keller: "Alone We Can Do So Little. Together We Can Do So Much"

June 26, 2018
Image left to right, M. R. Barnett, American Foundation for the Blind, Executive Director, Helen Keller and Eric T. Boulter, American Foundation for the Overseas Blind, Field Director. Celebrating Helen's 75th birthday with cake, 1955. Kirk Adams here, President of the American Foundation for the Blind. I am humbled and honored to be the leader of the organization that Helen Keller championed for 44 years from 1924 until her death in 1968. Like Helen, I too am blind, and I too am keenly…

The Helen Keller Archive: Mystery Solved!

June 24, 2018
Helen Keller circa 1893. As an archivist, at the Perkins School for the Blind Archives, I often spend a lot of time tracking down information. While I relish a mystery and the process of its’ unraveling, these searches rarely come with a desirable deadline or at an opportune moment. Last summer, I was tasked with trying to track down materials that had been accessed before the Perkins School for the Blind had an archives program, archivist, or finding aids (pre-2011). The task was daunting,…

"Miracle Work" Reflections of a French Deafblind Scholar on the Digital Helen Keller Archive

June 20, 2018
Helen Keller at the Union of the War Blind in Paris, 1946. She is with French veterans blinded during World War II, one of whom is playing the piano. In June 2018, more than a century after she was born, an enormous amount of Helen Keller's archive is available to everyone all over the world with an internet connection; this ‘miracle work’ has happened by virtue of digital technology, the will of an organization, the resolute eyes and hands of transcribers and the endless energy of an…

On Law Firms Prioritizing Web Accessibility

June 18, 2018
Kudos to Lynn Foley and Connal McNamara, co-authors of the June 4 National Law Review article “Why Law Firms Should Make Web Accessibility a Priority in 2018.” In it, they make the call for attorneys to actively inform their clients about the both the risks as well as benefits of accessibility in an effort to promote a more inclusive experience for all. They even point out the importance of building their own law firms’ websites to be as accessible as possible. The article discusses the…

Joseph E. Chamberlin: Journalist and Early Advocate of Helen Keller

June 17, 2018
Joseph Edgar Chamberlin As it turns out, in a certain generation, our family’s best memory keeper was Helen Keller. I am indebted to the Helen Keller Archive at the American Foundation for the Blind for allowing me to come to know – four generations later – my great-great grandfather, the Boston author and journalist, Joseph Edgar Chamberlin. My current book in progress, called Letters from Red Farm, reveals new information about Helen Keller as it tells the untold story of her deep and…
Author Betsy Emerson
Blog Topics Education, Helen Keller

Helen Keller's Friends: Famous and Progressive

June 12, 2018
Seen left to right are Joseph Lash, Trude Wenzel Lash, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Katharine Cornell, David Levy, Polly Thomson, and Adele Levy, 1954. On a late summer’s day in 1954 a group of friends gathered in Martha’s Vineyard for tea and conversation. The setting was Chip Chop, a sprawling compound owned by the married actors Katharine Cornell (known to friends as Kit) and Guthrie McClintic, and a few photos were taken to mark the occasion. The image above is one of them. The man…

Helen Keller and the Love of a Metadata Specialist for Her Subject

June 6, 2018
Left to right are Anne Bancroft and Helen Keller at an 80th birthday party for Keller. I thought I knew what I would find when I started my tenure as the Metadata Specialist for the digitization project of the Helen Keller Archive. During my graduate school internship at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, I processed several collections relating to the education and history of those who are blind and visually impaired. I knew all of the major Massachusetts players: Samuel…

Born Accessible: The Digital Helen Keller Archive

June 4, 2018
Helen Keller seated and reading a book in braille, Westport, CT, 1960. I have the honor of being an advisor for the Helen Keller Digital Archive, a project of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). One of the great aspects of a digital archive is that it makes the content more accessible to people with disabilities. AFB has gone even further to make the Helen Keller archive more usable by people with visual impairments or blindness. Helen Keller was one of the most famous social…

Helen Keller: Persistence and Resistance

May 31, 2018
Head and shoulders image of Helen Keller taken at her 80th birthday in 1960. Helen Keller died 50 years ago today – just a few weeks short of her 88th birthday. As the archivist and caretaker of her collection, I initially wondered how I nearly overlooked this anniversary. Upon consideration, I have several theories about this that I’d like to share with you. In the decade and a half of my professional role, I have never focused on her death date. Keller was fortunate enough to live a long…