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The Legacy of Helen Keller Lives On

In 1984, President Reagan declared the last week of June as “Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week” to coincide with Helen Keller’s birthday on June 27th. This week is not only meant to celebrate the amazing life and achievements of Helen Keller, it also serves a greater purpose – to ensure that her legacy continues to live on.

As one of the leading humanitarians of the 20th century, Helen Keller played a major role in improving the welfare of blind people. Between 1946 and 1957, she visited 35 countries on five continents and met with world leaders such as Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru and Golda Meir to advocate for the rights of those with vision loss. It goes without saying that her courageous and tireless work paved the way for organizations like Industries for the Blind, Inc. – Milwaukee, and we couldn’t be more proud to continue her legacy through our mission.

Black and white photo of Helen Keller and three other people.

Many people are surprised to discover that there is a special connection to Helen Keller within our organization’s roots. Peter J. Salmon, the founder of our parent organization, National Industries for the Blind, worked closely with Helen Keller for many years. In fact, he was one of the last notable allies of her active career, and one with whom she had a strong connection, as he was also passionate about advocating for people with multiple disabilities.

Notable in his own right, Peter spent many years fighting for the rights of the disabled. In fact, he played a key role in promoting the Wagner-O’Day legislation of 1938, which paved the way for the creation of National Industries for the Blind.

Exactly 76 years after the signing of the Wagner-O’Day act and the creation of NIB, the work of both Peter Salmon and Helen Keller lives on in everything we do here at IB Milwaukee, particularly through the work of our deaf-blind employees like Tim Adorjan and Brian Curtin who help us produce quality products like our U.S. Government pens and pencils.

In a eulogy at Helen Keller’s funeral, Senator Lister Hill summarized her legacy best: “She will live on, one of the few, the immortal names not born to die. Her spirit will endure as long as man can read and stories can be told of the woman who showed the world there are no boundaries to courage and faith.”

On behalf of our employees, we thank Helen Keller and others like her for their tireless work, and we thank you for supporting our mission of providing meaningful employment to the disabled. Visit to support our mission even further and purchase products that make this possible.


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