Women’s History Month: 5 Women Who Aren’t Helen Keller

Post by Steph Solis

March marks Women’s History Month, a celebration of remarkable females who have exceeded expectations, overcome prejudice and personal tribulations to make a difference in our world.

Everyone knows about Helen Keller, the accomplished political activist and author who was deaf and blind. But many other blind and visually impaired women have made their mark in sports, arts, activism and other fields. MABVI shares with you some of the most accomplished women within the community.

Anne Sullivan

Formal portrait of Anne Sullivan taken around the time she first journeyed to Tuscumbia, Alabama to teach Helen Keller.

Formal portrait of Anne Sullivan taken around the time she first journeyed to Tuscumbia, Alabama to teach Helen Keller. Photo Courtesy of Perkins Archives.

Anne Sullivan was a skilled visually impaired American educator, best known as Helen Keller’s mentor and best friend. Sullivan, who came from a poor family with little education, attended Perkins School for the Blind and graduated as valedictorian of her class, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. She spent the rest of her life as an educator in the manual alphabet and reading, teaching Keller’s lectures and ultimately lecturing with her. In 1915, she received a “Teacher’s Medal” at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Sabriye Tenberken

Sabriye Tenberken, a co-founder of Braille Without Borders, appears at the campus of kanthari international. She is wearing a short-sleeved black shirt and has a white cane. Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Sabriye Tenberken, a co-founder of Braille Without Borders, appears at the campus of kanthari international. She is wearing a short-sleeved black shirt and has a white cane. Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Sabriye Tenberken, of Germany, co-founded Braille Without Borders. The project was influenced by her work at Bonn University, as the first blind student to enroll in Central Asian Sciences, according to the organization’s website. She developed the Tibetan Braille Script to better understand the materials. Tenberken is now the co-director of the organization and focuses on fundraising, communication, curricula development and training the teachers.

Susan Townsend

Susan Townsend is a prolific novelist and playwright, though she is best known for her character Adrian Mole. Her most recent book, published in 2012, is The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year. Townsend has continued her Adrian Mole series despite going blind from diabetic neuropathy, according to the Independent.

Marla Runyan

Olympic runner Marla Runyan runs.

Olympic runner Marla Runyan. Photo Courtesy of the National Women’s History Museum

Marla Runyan, who became legally blind after developing Stargardt’s Disease, is a record-breaking Olympic runner.  She started competing athletically while attending San Diego State University, becoming the first legally blind person and Paralympian to compete in the Olympic Games in Sydney Australia, according to the National Women’s History Museum. She finished eighth in the 1,500 meter, the highest record by an American woman for that event. Runyan holds other records and serves as the first Ambassador for Perkins.

Terri Gibbs

Terri Gibbs, of Augusta, Ga., has made a name for herself as a country/pop/Gospel singer. After touring with country music legend George Jones, she signed with MCA records and released her hit album “Somebody’s Knockin’,” according to her website. Gibbs won the first Horizon Award from the Country Music Award for new artist of the year, and she has also received the New Female Vocalist of the year from the Academy of Country Music and two Grammy nominations.

“Somebody’s Knockin'” single by Terri Gibbs live:

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