Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard

By Lois J. Einhorn | Go to book overview

Our Duties to the Blind

Boston, Massachusetts, January 5, 1904

The annual meeting of this association [The Massachusetts Association for Promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind] gives us another opportunity to discuss among ourselves, and to present to the public, the needs and interests of the adult blind, and I am glad to avail myself of the opportunity. This question of helping the blind to support themselves has been near to my heart for many years, since long before the formation of this society. All I have learned on the subject in the books I have read, I have stored up in my mind against the day when I should be able to turn it to the use of my blind fellows. That day has come.

I have heard that some people think the views I am expressing on this subject, and indeed on all subjects, are not my own, but Miss Sullivan's. If you please, I do very often express Miss Sullivan's ideas, just as to the best of my ability I express ideas which I have been fortunate enough to gather from other wise sources—from the books I have read, from the friends with whom I talk, even from the poets, the prophets, and the sages. It is not strange that some of my ideas come from the wise one with whom I am most intimate and to whom I owe all that I am. I rejoice for myself and for you if Miss Sullivan's ideas are commingled with mine. The more on that account ought what I say to receive your respectful consideration; for Miss Sullivan is acquainted with the work of the blind and the work for the blind. She was blind once herself, and she spent six years in the Perkins Institution. She has since proved a successful teacher of the blind. Other teachers from all over the world have sought her out and exchanged views with her. So Miss Sullivan's ideas on the matter we have to consider are those of an expert. But may I venture to protest I have some ideas of my own? It is true I am still an undergraduate, and I have not had time to study the problems of the blind so deeply as I shall some day. I have, however, thought about these problems, and I know that the time is ripe, nay it has long been ripe, to provide for the adult blind the means of self-support.

The blind are in three classes: first, blind children, who need a common school education; second, the aged and the infirm blind who need to be tenderly cared for; third, the able-bodied blind, who ought to work.

-82-

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