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Meet Amazing Americans Activists & Reformers Helen Keller
Helen Keller reading a woman's fingers
Helen Keller reading a woman's fingers

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The Other Senses

Most importantly, Keller used touch to communicate. She used the one-hand manual alphabet to talk with friends and family. To use the manual alphabet, the speaker would form their hand into different shapes that represented each letter of the alphabet. The listener would gently cup their hand over the speaker's hand to feel the letters. Keller and Sullivan were so good at using the alphabet that people watching them thought they had a psychic connection.

Keller could also read people's lips by placing her hands lightly on their mouth when they spoke. She used touch to read books produced for blind people, either with Braille (a system of raised dots for blind people) or raised text. Keller called touch "magic" and, indeed, she shared just how magical touch could be.

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