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Helen Keller's visit to the Central Institute for the Deaf

Helen Keller     Dr. Max Goldstein

                              Helen Keller                                                                   Dr. Max Goldstein

The Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) is celebrating its centennial this year with a number of events and festivities.  However, for the 25th anniversary of the founding of CID, a very special guest attended the celebration -- Helen Keller.  The Becker Library Archives is in possession of the speech she gave at this event, as well as a letter written by the famous deaf and blind author and political activist.  Both of these items can be found in the Max A. Goldstein Papers, who was the founder of the Central Institute, and a personal acquaintance of Helen Keller and her teachers Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson.

The text of her October 7, 1939 speech at CID is transcribed below:

Dr. Goldstein and Friends,

A proud sense of gratification warms my heart as I stand before this responsive audience on the 25th anniversary of the Central Institute for the Deaf.  Not only do we celebrate its enthusiastic service to the handicapped, we also signalize its noble share in the growing triumph of the deaf in America.

The Central Institute is to be congratulated on the splendid work it has done, breaking down barriers in the way of deaf children and placing them socially on a level with those who hear.  That is one great need -- that people learn to be patient with the peculiar difficulties of the deaf and lend them a helping hand to overcome them.

The importance of giving the deaf child an early start in speech training cannot be overstressed.  Too often parents do not realize this, and consequently they seriously retard his development.  As soon as they learn of his impaired hearing, they should find ways to place him under instruction, no matter how young he is.  That is another vital lesson the Central Institute has striven to teach the public all these years.

It is also encouraging that another constructive movement has been started -- to establish tests of hearing for children in every public school and supplementary lip-reading for those who do not hear well.  That will mean that many a partially deaf child needs never lose the stimulus and joy of normal living.

Dear friends, you have foregathered with us on a day of glad memories and seen the harvest of patient labor.  I appeal to you and to the people of Missouri to cooperate with the Central Institute in breaking trails to a richer life for the deaf and safeguarding the right of others never to become deaf.  Then the gift of hearing you enjoy will be doubly precious because through you many dwellers in the Great Silence will be brightened, and increasingly take their place in the life and the heart of the worlds.

--Helen Keller

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