Deaf/Blind for a Day?

usakeller2.jpg Helen Keller with President Dwight D. Eisenhower

A friend of mine named Bob MacPherson (owner and moderator bhNews, a listserve to which I belong) posted the following article: Helen Keller

I have no idea where he found this, but he’s always been incredibly gifted at digging up interesting tidbits that no one else seems to know about. Even people without disabilities or physical challenges appreciate Helen Keller and her life. I remember reading books about Ms. Keller when I was in grade school back in the 70’s.

In the last couple of weeks, one of my classes was “Deaf for a Day“. Due to a few very negative reactions from students and their families, as well the counter reactions from my family and online friends who were looking forward to the assignment’s conclusion, I decided to not discuss the assignment in class this year. I chose to have them write about it instead, and I really look forward to reading what they “learned”. (Hey! I’m wise enough to note my own emotional limitations by which to handle topics that are painful for me!)

I suppose since this is still on my mind a great deal due to everything that happened, Bob’s article on Helen Keller got me to thinkin’…

“Hey! I should remove my cochlear implant and hearing aid… wear a blindfold… and be Deaf/Blind for the day! After all I have several very dear friends who have this combination of challenges!”

Well my husband put a quick stop to this idea. He has numerous emergency room bills from falls I take when I have full use of my sight. He wasn’t about to allow me to take away yet another sense. stick-in-mud.jpg(He can be a real stick in the mud! Kidding) It didn’t seem to matter that it’s been a full 6 months since I’ve been to the ER for an accident due to my poor balance!

I did find myself longing to experience a deaf/blind day as two of my dear friends live this every day. (I posted about them recently here). It is my opinion that the best way to understand how another lives, is to “walk in their shoes”.

As I often do, I digress. Wasn’t it incredible that being deaf AND blind, Helen Keller still learned to speak so well that her enunciation was perfect? Not even someone talking with her on the telephone could tell she was deaf/blind by listening to her voice! Helen Keller learned to SING? It’s an incredible skill and testimony of hours of practice and work to speak well when deaf/blind. But to sing as well? (Honestly, my jaw dropped open when I read this!) I am only “late-deafened”, and was a member of different choirs in high school and college. Think you’ll ever hear me sing now? Think again. When I sing I use my hands now, not daring to trust that I may possibly actually sing in tune with my voice. I do sing around the house sometimes, but it’s usually when I’m hooked up to my Sennheiser TR 820 listening to iTunes. I’m fairly confident that I’m not singing in tune, judging by the winces from my family and Chloe!

Helen Keller is a great example… I suppose in many ways a hero to me. She is the author of several books. I think it’s time I re-read them.

Denise Portis
©2008 Hearing Loss Diary

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3 thoughts on “Deaf/Blind for a Day?

  1. bhNews had a post about a newly found photo of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan taken on a July 1888 vacation to Brewster, MA, a year after Anne Sullivan came to the Keller family. A very interesting photo of the real people behind the famous movie starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft… Helen was 8 years old then.
    http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/0305helen-keller0305-ON.html

    I also became aware of Helen Keller in the 5th grade and read one book about her. She died in June 1968 shortly after school (5th grade) let out for the year.

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