Every human being can possess five senses: the sense of sight, sense of touch, sense of hearing, sense of smell, and sense of taste. We learn about the world through our five senses. Touch helps us learn about our world by feeling and learning the size, texture, and shape of things. Smell helps us to enjoy life and helps us learn about unsafe conditions. Hearing helps us learn from each other through communication. Sight helps us to recognize each other and learn about color, motion, and distance. Taste helps us, among other things, to select and enjoy foods. The loss of even one of these senses can be devastating and greatly affect a person's life. .
Anne Sullivan was born in April 1866 to Irish immigrants who were destitute. As a child, she contracted trachoma, a disease of the eyes, which left her nearly blind. Shortly before her tenth birthday, she was sent to live in the state poorhouse with her younger brother Jimmy. Anne fought relentlessly for her and Jimmy to remain together and was successful until Jimmy's death not long after they arrived. Knowing that she had no caring family left, Anne realized that her only chance to make something of herself was to attend the Perkins Institute for the Blind. At the age of fourteen, her dreams came true when she was admitted into Perkins and at the age of twenty, she graduated as valedictorian of her class. Not long after her graduation, the director of Perkins, Michael Anagnos, offered Anne a position to teach a deaf-blind student, Helen Keller, in Alabama. Anne's decision to accept would shape the rest of her life. Anne Sullivan was faced with a great challenge; she was to educate an undisciplined and ill-tempered child, Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind. However, Anne did not dismiss Helen for her wild behavior or interpret it as evil. Instead, Anne relied on Helen's ability to understand. Anne based her instruction on a form of touch teaching, rather than trying to explain what objects were to Helen, she let Helen physically feel them.