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The original blind/deaf girl

bookcover
Author: Elizabeth Gitter

Everyone thinks Helen Keller was the first blind/deaf person to learn language. Fifty years before Helen, there was Laura Bridgman. Laura and many members of her family got sick with scarlet fever. Her two older siblings died. Laura not only lost her sight and hearing, she lost her sense of smell and taste. The only sense she had left was touch.

Then we have Doctor Howe. He decides he wants to do a scientific experiment that can prove that blind/deaf people can learn how to communicate. He finds Laura and her parents make the decision to send 7 year old Laura to Dr. Howe's school. Laura is the only blind/deaf person in the School for the Blind.

The book shows the history of how Laura became blind/deaf to the most well known female besides the Queen of England. Dr. Howe would write articles detailing his success with teaching Laura language. Dr. Howe would put Laura on display at conventions to show HIS success. The doctor had other blind/deaf subjects that were failures. One was a women in her late twenties that the doctor realized was too old for his techniques. One little boy, who lost his sight and hearing at 4 was also a failure, but was trained to do minor tasks.

Dr. Howe eventually lost interest in Laura and sent her back to live with her family. Laura became anorexic and the doctor took her back to the school, to live out her life.

Laura Bridgman was bascially forgotton by the world when Helen Keller became famous.

I was so fasinated by the story of Laura Bridgman. What got me interested in Laura's story was the fictional book written by Kimberly Elkins called, ?What Is Visible".