Helen Keller Foundation

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When the wellspring of possibility rained down upon her, the pebble on the pond of what can be, made an everlasting ripple.  When all around her said an ordinary life would be impossible, Helen Keller agreed.  She was anything but ordinary.

She demanded extraordinary.  Like water from a well, every day came to her hands full of possibilities.  Helen Keller was deaf, but she could hear the inner voice.  She was blind, but she could see the possibilities.
The possibility to explore.
The possibility to learn.
The possibility to enlighten.
The possibility to change.
The possibility to serve.
The possibility to soar.

We are the Helen Keller Foundation.  Helen Keller changed the world. Our purpose is to keep changing it, as she envisioned.
To keep serving.
To keep teaching.
To keep protecting.
To keep healing.
To keep saving.
To keep enlightening.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”

We are the Helen Keller Foundation.  We have faith that sight can be saved.  That hearing can be saved.  That human dignity can be saved. That grace and innocence can be saved.  No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to uncharted seas, or opened new doorways to the human spirit.

We are the Helen Keller Foundation.  The possibilities are endless. Like Helen Keller, we hear the call.  We see the possibilities.  We speak the truths.

We are the Helen Keller Foundation.  And we are now Helen Keller’s ears.  We are her voice.  We are her eyes.  And now we hold in the palm of our hands, through science and enlightenment, a wellspring of possibilities.  The possibilities to save sight, speech and hearing.  The possibilities to change the world forever.  To lead succeeding generations into a world of healing, of tolerance, of grace.  As far as the eye can see and the spirit can imagine.  The possibilities are endless to lead the world into a day where there will be no blind eye, no muted voice, no deafened ears.

We have heard the call.  We look straight into the eyes of the world.

We are the Helen Keller Foundation.
We see the possibilities.


The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education continues the work to which its namesake dedicated her life.  It is from her achievements that we draw our inspiration.  And our global efforts to end blindness and deafness through medical research are a result of her belief that no matter what the obstacle anything is possible.

Our Mission Statement
Based on the legacy of Helen Keller, the Foundation strives to prevent blindness and deafness by advancing research and education.  The Foundation aspires to be a leader in integrating sight, speech and hearing research with the greater biomedical research community, creating and coordinating a peer-reviewed, worldwide network of investigators and institutions.

Our Values and Beliefs

  • We are inspired by and dedicated to the legacy of Helen Keller.
  • We are aware of the optimism, courage and perseverance needed to meet her calls to action.
  • We are committed to integrating research and education with medical care and rehabilitation to prevent blindness and deafness and to alleviate sight and hearing loss.
  • We believe that research will substantially reduce the worldwide societal impact of sight and hearing loss.

Our Goals

  • Integrate laboratory and clinical research to advance the state of vision and hearing research worldwide.
  • Conduct a program of public education on the legacy of Helen Keller emphasizing vision and hearing awareness and the importance of medical research.
  • Develop funding resources and a public relations effort sufficient to support an effective global research and education program.

Our History
In 1888, a world burst open in the form of a splash of water in the hand of a young blind and deaf girl at a well in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  She instantly learned that water and other things have names, and she later called it “the birthday of my soul”.  Exactly a century later in 1988, Helen Keller’s family joined a group of committed scientists to form a foundation in her now famous name, and in her home state, with the mission of continuing her victories over blindness and deafness through research and education.

The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education is a proven entity with a track record of substantial accomplishments, out of proportion to its size.  Using donated funds responsibly (78.1% to program services, excluding in-kind services) to achieve targeted results, accomplishments to date include:

  • Created a surgical technique that revolutionized surgery on the macula, the human center of vision, now used worldwide.
  • Spawned development of ocular traumatology (eye injury) as a new subspecialty of ophthalmology.
  • Proved that the recently injured eye with no light perception (NLP) can often be restored to useful vision instead of being abandoned or removed.
  • Defined the disease of Degenerative Vitreous Syndrome or Vitreous Opacity Syndrome (severe “floaters”) and described a safe surgical technique for its treatment (Buckler Award, American Society of Retina Specialists, 2007).
  • Developed a laser technique that prevents retinal detachment in high-risk eyes with greater than 95% certainty (ready for clinical trial design).
  • Developed a permanent cure to save central vision in diabetic macular edema, the leading cause of sight loss in the developed world (ready for clinical trial design).
  • Developed a surgical eye treatment that reduces scar tissue complications (PVR) in retinal detachment repair by 88% (clinical trial has been designed – ready for NIH submission).
  • Developed a laser technique that offers a permanent cure for those over 65 who develop stroke of the eye (ready for clinical trial design).
  • Developed an operation called “Mobilize and Move Vitrectomy” (M&M) to restore vision to macular degeneration patients who suffer sudden, complete loss of central vision due to hemorrhage (ready for publication).
  • Developed a new treatment paradigm, “Complete and Early Vitrectomy for Endophthalmitis” (CEVE) to save eyes suffering severe infection after cataract surgery (ready for one-armed clinical trial design).
  • Created the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research (ultimately capable of becoming the “Nobel Prize” of vision) that enjoys great credibility among the world community of vision researchers.
  • Since 1994, the Character Education Program has presented to over 500,000 children in 3,000+ schools in every Alabama County and throughout North America and Europe.

Board of Directors and Officers; Helen Keller Foundation For Research and Education

Mr. Raymond C. Griffin
Mr. Griffin is the former owner of Southern Computer Systems, and he is presently retired.  He joined the Board in 2014.

Mr. Ronald Levitt, Secretary
Mr. Levitt is a partner in the law firm Sirote and Permutt, P.C.  He provides legal counsel to the Foundation and has served on the Board since 1992.

Robert Morris, M.D., President
Dr. Morris is an ophthalmic surgeon and the President of Retina Specialists of Alabama.  He is a co-founder of the Foundation and oversees the intramural clinical research program.  He is also President of the International Society of Ocular Trauma. Click to view Résumé

Mathew R. Sapp, M.D.
Dr. Sapp is an ophthalmic surgeon and the Managing Partner of Retina Specialists of Alabama and the Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham/Retina Specialists of Alabama Vitreoretinal Surgical Fellowship Program.  He joined the Board in 2015.

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