Rendered deaf and blind by scarlet fever at the age of a year and a half, Helen Keller—with the help of Anne Sullivan, other teachers, and her own determination—learned to read, write, and speak several languages. Keller became an advocate for people with disabilities and fought for human rights her entire life. In 1903, while attending Radcliffe College — she was the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree — she wrote "Optimism Within." "If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing." This short work is part of Applewood's "American Roots" series, tactile mementos of American passions by some of America's most famous writers and thinkers.