June 16, 2022 By CDHD June 26 to July 2: Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week Deaf-Blind Awareness Week starts on June 26 and runs through July 2. This weeklong observance began in 1984 when President Ronald Regan declared the last week of June as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. To mark the occasion, we’ve pulled together 10 cool facts about Deaf-Blindness Awareness Week and one of the most influential members of the Deaf-Blind community – Helen Keller. Did you know … Deaf-Blindness is made up of different degrees of hearing and/or vision loss, which makes it a unique and diverse condition. The Deaf-Blind community is made up of individuals with a wide range of sensory capabilities. A childhood illness took Helen Keller’s sight and hearing. When she was 19 months old, she fell ill with what doctors now suspect was Scarlet Fever or Meningitis. Once her fever broke, her mother noticed she was no longer responding to the dinner bell or when a hand waved before her face. Deaf-Blind Awareness Week is always the last week in June. President Regan selected the last week of June to honor Helen Keller’s birthday, which is June 27. Helen Keller was the first person with Deaf-Blindness to earn a college degree. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1904 from Radcliffe College of Harvard University. Deaf-Blind Awareness Week has grown into a global observance. Many countries around the world celebrate Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, including the UK and Australia. In fact, some places recognize the entire month of June as Deaf-Blind Awareness Month. Helen Keller was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. The nomination was a result of her trip to the Mideast in 1952. She travelled to the region to meet with leaders and advocate for people with disabilities. Deaf-Blindness affects more than 2.4 million people in the US alone. The US quarter for the state of Alabama features Helen Keller’s likeness. Her name is also written on the coin in Latin and braille. The quarter was introduced in 2003 and is still in circulation. Each year, national organizations designate a theme for Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. This year, the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults’ theme is Diversity and Inclusion. As the website says, “Creativity and innovation are built upon a diverse group of perspectives. Who better to help initiate that innovation than the Deaf-Blind community, a group of people whose lives are driven by the pursuit of change and innovation?” Helen Keller lived to be 87 years old. She passed in 1968 due to natural causes. Her achievements were incredibly influential for the Deaf-Blind community and her legacy lives on to this day. She’s often recognized as one of the most important figures of the 20th century. If you would like more information about Deaf-Blindness or resources available to the Idaho Deaf-Blind community, visit the Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness. You can also visit the iCanConnect Idaho page on the IATP website for more information on Idaho's national Deaf-Blind equipment distribution program.